Widgets

Widgets, usually located in the sidebar, add functionality and enhance the user experience. While most of the widgets we will be working with are already included in the original WordPress installation, there are literally thousands to choose from on the Web.

By: Randall Packer |

In this particular example taken from the student site Scribbles of a Mind in Stasis, look at the right sidebar to see how widgets were used to enhance the functionality and creative possibilities for customizing the site and adding to its capabilities to engage the user experience. In this site, the student has several widgets, most of which were pre-installed, in what is called the “Secondary Widget Area,” which is specifically for the sidebar (see figure below). There is another section called “Main Widget Area,” which is intended for the footer area of the site. For now, we are only concerned with the sidebar situated on the right side of the site.

widget-sidebar_Screenshot 2014-05-12 11.33.49

The above Widgets include the following:

  • OSS Course LInk: this will be pre-installed in every site, which provides a link back to the class site.
  • Search: generally pre-installed by WordPress, used for searching the site.
  • Recent Posts: generally pre-installed by WordPress, which displays the most recent posts created on the site.
  • Archives: generally pre-installed by WordPress, providing a monthly list of posts
  • Categories: generally preinstalled pre-installed by WordPress, this widget provides a drop down menu of site categories.
  • Ultimate Tag Cloud: this widget was installed by the student to display a tag cloud, which will be explained below.

Note that all of the widgets have custom descriptions, which adds a personal dimension to the site, just as an artist might create a studio space that matches their aesthetic approach, sensibility and workflow. The description below of the Ultimate Tag Cloud installation describes how to add and customize the widget. Some of the customization, such as providing a widget label, could apply to any of the widgets listed above.

Since Open Source Studio uses a multi-site, consult with the system administrator to determine whether or not a new widget can be added, which is not included in the installation. Many widgets are not compatible with the multi-site.

  •  Installing Ultimate Tag Cloud: the ultimate tag cloud widget is an enhanced version of the standard tag cloud widget, which comes with the OSS installation. In order to add it to the sidebar, drag from the widget area (Appearance/Widgets) where all the installation widgets are located (see figure below) to the “Secondary Widget Area.”
add-widget_Screenshot 2014-05-12 11.56.15
  • Opening the Widget editor: The Ultimate Tag Cloud widget is now located in the “Secondary Widget Area,” which is opened in the example below for editing and customization.
tag-widget-edit1_Screenshot 2014-05-12 11.58.52

Any of the widgets can be opened by clicking on the triangle icon on the right side, allowing editing and customization.

  • Widget Settings: The Ultimate Tag Cloud widget is very powerful and has numerous items for editing and customization. Here we will discuss those settings on the first page (see figure below), which gives a sense of the power of the WordPress database to organize and conceptually frame artistic work or research. The tag cloud weights the tags according to their use so there is a visual representation of how often they are used (see the tag cloud itself at the bottom of the page).
tag-cloud-editor2_Screenshot 2014-05-12 12.02.32
  • Selection Strategy: This item allows the selection of how the tag cloud is viewed according to popularity (see figure above). Note that while the selection is by popularity, which weights the most popular (largest) tags, the order of the tags is displayed alphabetically by name (see below).
tag-cloud-scribbles2_Screenshot 2014-05-12 12.15.57
  • Authors: This item allows the selection of which author’s posts will appear in the tag cloud. Since there is generally only one author per site, this can be left as “All Authors.”
  • Order: The order of the tags is displayed alphabetically by name.
  • Taxonomies: This provides the choice of displaying either categories or tags as a cloud. Here we are using tags.
  • Post Types: You can derive the tags from posts and/or pages. Here we are only using posts.

Remember that one can always remove widgets by clicking on the editor triangle on the right side and clicking on “Remove.”