A widget is just a small piece of computer code or a small application that can be inserted into a web page that performs a certain function or leads to a much larger application. It makes it easier for us non-tech types to get something done on our web sites without a lot of hassle.
You see them and use them all the time.
A widget can be: buttons, dialog boxes, pop-up windows, selection boxes, toggle switches, forms, stock quotes, news, search boxes for Google, clocks, counters, games, feeds and many many more.
If you are a Word Press user, you hear the term widget all the time. A widget in Word Press allows you to add tools or content to the side bars of you blog. One caution however, you must make sure you have a widget enabled theme. If you read the specifications of a theme it will tell you if it is widget enabled. This article is not going to go into all the details here about installing and using widgets. You should go to this web site: http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page to learn more.
Some people also get widgets and plugins confused when talking about their blogs. A widget is not a plugin and a plugin is not a widget. Think of it this way: a widget does something in your sidebar, a plugin affects your whole blog. So placing an auto responder sign up form in your side bar is done with a widget. A product such as “All In One SEO” is a plugin because it affects the SEO of your whole site.
If you go to this web page: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ and look on the left side column you will find many widgets and plugins with ratings from other Word Press users. If there is something you want to do to your blog you will find a widget or a plugin to do it.
Most bloggers use widgets, but there is a lot of discussion about if you should or not, how many, and of course which ones. This decision really comes down to what are you trying to do with your blog?
You have to think about form, function and who is your audience. If you have a blog that is giving investment advice then a widget that shows what the Dow and the Nasdaq is trading at is a good thing.
It’s really common sense. What fits with your blog objectives? However, you will see there are many options out there and it’s wise not to get too much going on in the side bars, because it can be very busy and distracting for your visitors and they may click away before you can communicate your message.