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Plugins & Widgets: What’s the Difference

Click here to see full size imageUsing Word Press makes building a blog or website very simple. However, you will want to make use of plug-ins and widgets to have a more interesting and interactive site. But, how do you know which one to use. . . and when to use it.

Plug-in vs Widget

Plug-in

A plug-in is a script that can be used to optimize your blog by performing a function. It is possible that the plug-in would never be seen by the visitor, but be activated from the dashboard to perform a function in the background. There are literally thousands of plug-ins to download for free from the WordPress website – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/

Some of the more common plug-ins can be used for:

  • Optimizing search engine ranking
  • Placing RSS feeds on the blog
  • Google XML site map
  • Including contact forms
  • Offering social network sharing
  • Tracking statistics

Click here to see full size dahsboard imageSome plug-ins require that they be ‘edited’ or configured before being activated. This is done through the Dashboard >> Plug-ins where you can choose from:

  • Installed plug-ins (Here you have the option to change settings, edit, activate or deactivate the plug-in)
  • Add  new plug-in (Select new plug-in by term, author or tag)
  • Review the Editor (Not recommended to change anything here unless you know PHP)
  • Configure your Akismet (Insert API key).

Visit the links below for some images of :

–  Sample plug-in page
–  Sample list of some available plug-ins

 

Widget

You might say a widget is a ‘pretty’ plug-in that is placed in a blog to enhance the appearance. A widget allows you to easily add design elements to your sidebar(s) by dragging and dropping the element you want from the Dashboard >> Appearance >> Widgets. We most often think of widgets as being used to allow the ordering of elements on a blog, i.e., calendar, archives, categories, text, etc.

Once you have navigated to the Widget page, you will see ‘Available Widgets’, Inactive Widgets, and a list of the sidebars that are available for your blog theme. The number of sidebars vary depending on the theme. In addition to the standard left and right sidebars, you may even have left and right ‘inner’ sidebars. Once you have placed the widgets you want – by dragging and dropping – into the sidebar of choice, you can easily re-order them. Again you use the drag and drop function.

The Text Widget is very versatile and can be used to insert graphics as well as text. Knowing some basic HTML will allow you to present the content in a more pleasing format, i.e, centered, bolded, different font color, etc.

Summary

Both plug-ins and widgets are an important part of creating an interesting blog that will keep the viewers coming back. And, while they are different, they are similar. In summary, we might say that while plug-ins don’t always have widgets to make them visible (and attractive to the visitor), an ‘attractive’ widget will always be a plug-in.

Don’t forget you can easily set up your Word Press blog using Fantastico through the Host Gator cPanel.  Get started blogging today by clicking on the Host Gator link in the right sidebar.


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