We love widgets. They’re a quick and easy way to pack more content and useful information into every nook and cranny of your website. Adding social links, forms, recent posts and more couldn’t be easier.
Depending on the WordPress theme you’re using you may already have a ton of useful widgets built in (our theme Total for example includes 16+ custom widgets). But if your theme is lacking the widget of your dreams, try using a plugin to add it.
We’ve collected Top best 25 of our favorite WordPress widget ready plugins. So without waiting any longer, let’s have a look!
- 1 Custom Sidebar Plugins
- 2 Social WordPress Plugins
- 3 Instagram Feed Plugins
- 4 Newsletter Optins
- 5 Recent & Popular Posts Widgets
- 6 Sidebar Polls & Surveys
- 7 Contact Form Widgets
- 8 Calendar Plugins
- 9 Ad Banner Widgets
- 10 More Useful Widgets
Custom Sidebar Plugins
First things first. To use widgets you need a place to put them. Many themes include widget ready sidebars and/or footers. But what if you want different widgets on different pages?
To accomplish this you’ll need to create custom sidebars and assign them to your various posts, pages or custom post types. Don’t worry if this is a feature your WordPress theme doesn’t have – these sidebar plugins make it easy.
Custom Widget Areas
Custom Widget Areas is a helpful premium WordPress plugin that makes creating and adding custom sidebars or widget areas to any post or page. Simply create your new widget area and select the sidebar you want it to replace – it’s that easy.
Getting started couldn’t be easier. Just install the plugin and it will add a new menu item for your Custom Widget Areas in your WordPress dashboard. Click to add a new area and simply name your new area and choose your settings. Once you publish your new widget area it will be added to your main widgets page where you can use it like any of your other sidebar areas.
The other great features of this plugin include 7 styles, the ability to add custom widget areas to custom post types & taxonomies, RTL support and regular updates. This is an awesome plugin, and you can find out more about it by clicking on Learn More button above.
WooSidebars is one of the most popular custom sidebar plugins on the web. Just create new sidebar areas and set conditions for when a custom widget area should be displayed. This way you can show specific sidebars on any post, page, search results, archives, 404 and even your shop pages (products, cart, checkout and all).
Sidebar & Widget Manager for WordPress
Use this plugin to insert any number of widgets to create the exact layout you want on a page. Further customize your website by adding custom sidebars virtually anywhere. The plugin gives you the option to insert sidebars for vertical or horizontal widgets, the sidebars can be set to appear only with specific types of content, and the sidebars also immediately and automatically recognize any custom taxonomies (great if you want one of your widgets to show posts with a certain tag or category).
Another great feature is the included shortcode to insert a custom sidebar into your post. This way you can add widgets directly into your post. You can also use the plugin to replace a sidebar that came wit your WordPress theme, or even to customize the widgets in the footer. This plugin give you complete control over the appearance and visibility of pretty much all the widgetized areas on your site. Checkout more plugin features below!
Social WordPress Plugins
Social media is an important aspect of marketing and every business or blog absolutely needs to add links to their social profiles. The most accessible locations for your readers to find your social links is your sidebar and footer. Here are our favorite free social widget plugins from WordPress.org.
Candy Social Widget
Add a simple social widget to your WordPress theme with Candy Social. This plugin includes 25 popular social networks, plus an easy drag & drop reordering options. Customize the icon dimensions, font size, shape (square, rounded corners, or circle) and add a link target. That’s all there is to it!
Social Icons Widget by WPZoom
This handy plugin ads a widget for your social links. With support for 80+ social networks as well as 400+ icons to choose from this is a great option for adding simple square, rounded, circle, plain or labeled social icons to your sidebars.
AccessPress Social Icons Plugin
If you’re looking for a widget plugin with a bit more flair then AccessPress might be right for you. This plugin includes 12 unique built-in icon themes (including hexagons, outlined icons and even paper planes), the option for horizontal or vertical display layout, tooltips, hover animations and much more.
Instagram Feed Plugins
Social links are great, but if you want to boost reader interaction you might want to consider displaying your feed. Instagram in particular is a great option and there happen to be a ton of great free plugins for add it to your widgets.
WP Instagram Widget
Want a lightweight Instagram plugin? The WP Instagram Widget is quick, simple and sensible. Just install the plugin, add the Instagram widget to a sidebar or footer and enter your selected options (username, number of photos, link text, etc).
Instagram Slider Widget
Want to a a basic feed grid, or perhaps even a slider? Try the Instagram Slider Widget plugin. It displays the most recent photos from a user account or hashtag with added options for ordering (date, random, etc), slider navigation, slide animation and more.
Don’t miss the chance to turn one time visitors into return readers! Adding a newsletter widget is an easy (and non-invasive) way to get your website visitors to stay informed about your website. Here are a few of the widget ready newsletter plugins we like.
WP Subscribe integrates with aWeber, MailChimp and Feedburner so you can add a newsletter subscription box to any widget ready area. There are easy options for adding your signup box labels, success message, error message and customizations can be added with CSS.
If you want to send newsletters on your own without a third party service then have a look at MailPoet Newsletters. This plugin uses your email provider, web host or even Amazon to send newsletters that you build right in your WordPress dashboard. And it comes with a simple signup widget that you can insert into any sidebar.
Recent & Popular Posts Widgets
Share your best posts with your readers to get more views and shares by simply adding your posts to your sidebar or footer. These helpful free plugin make it easy to add recent or popular posts with a widget.
Recent Posts Widget Extended
The Recent Posts Widget Extended makes it easy to display your recent posts with thumbnails, excerpt, taxonomy and more in any widget ready area. There are tons of options so you can limit the results by category, tag or even post status.
WordPress Popular Posts
To display your most popular posts try the WordPress Popular Posts widget plugin. Select whether to show your top posts, pages or even custom post types based on page views. Plus there are options to choose the time period so your can show your popular posts of the day, week, month or even all time.
Sidebar Polls & Surveys
If you run a blog or online business you might want to find out what your readers think at some point or another. The easiest way to get instant feedback is with a poll or survey, and these plugins make adding a feedback form to your widget areas simple.
WP-Polls is a simple Ajaxed poll that you can insert into any post, page or sidebar. Customize your polls with templates and CSS once you’ve created them, and then insert them into any widget ready area by selecting your lasted poll or a specific one.
poll, Survey, Quiz & Form by OpinionStage
OpinionStage offers a more feature rich option with their Poll, Survey, Quiz & Form plugin. This is a great way to boost reader engagement by asking for reader input (or even using the poll for a giveaway). Plus it’s easy. Just create the poll and add it to your widgets.
Quiz & Survey Master
The Quiz & Survey Master plugin includes options for creating simple quizzes and surveys using true false, multiple choice, open answer, checkboxes, fill in the blank and number questions. Plus it uses a simple shortcode, so all you have to do is paste the short code into the text box, post or page where ever you want it.
Contact Form Widgets
Sidebars and footers are great spots to place simple contact forms and information. Whether you want a form or just an easy way to list your contact information, here are our favorite plugin options.
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is one of the best free contact form plugins on the web (in fact, it’s the plugin we recommend to all of our Total customers). No does Contact form 7 make it easy to build custom contact forms but you can insert your forms anywhere using the shortcode for your form (just paste it into a text widget to add it to a sidebar or footer).
WPForms Lite is a drag and drop form builder for WordPress that you can use to build custom forms in minutes. Plus there are pre-built templates to help save time, as well as easy options to embed your forms in any widget, post or page.
For businesses and websites with events or promotions a calendar is key. Calendar are perfect for sharing conferences, happy hours, limited time sales, webinars and more. And adding them to your sidebar or footer ensure more exposure for whatever it is you have coming up.
The Events Calendar
The Events Calendar is an awesome calendar for WordPress that offers easy features fro creating and managing events. The plugin adds a new post type that you can use to add all of your upcoming events, as well as a widget you can use to display an events list in any sidebar or footer.
Archives Calendar Widget
If you regularly add your events to your blog, or if you simply want to display your articles by date, the Archives Calendar Widget is an excellent option. The plugin adds a calendar widget with many more options than the default one built into WordPress. Use the options to create a daily or monthly calendar with post count that you can easily style with a bit of CSS to add custom colors and forms.
Tockify Events Calendar
Adding events with Tockify Calendar plugin is easy with the powerful editor, multiple calendar layouts (month, agenda, pin-board), customizable appearance, Google Calendar sync and more. Plus the included mini-calendar widget makes it easy to display your upcoming events within a calendar with the events listed under the selected day.
Ad Banner Widgets
Monetization is crucial for most blogs and websites. Without at least a small in-flow of cash it can be tough to keep a website up and running. Consider these ad banner widgets to make a bit of extra income from your sidebar or footer.
Ads Widget Easy
The Ads Widgets Easy plugin makes inserting ad banners into any widget area easy. The plugin includes the simplest of options – ad title, link and image. This way you can quickly and easily insert your banners without having to type up the code yourself in text widget.
Meks Easy Ads Widget
For more options then have a look at the Meks Easy Ads Widget. This plugin makes it possible to create an unlimited number of adverts from a single widget using predefined or custom ad sizes, random ordering, slide or rotate animations and more. It perfect for creating an alternating banner, or even a grid of smaller 125 x 125 ads.
Google AdSEnse by BestWebSoft
If you want to include Google Adsense ads in your sidebars or footers then the Google AdSense by BestWebSoft plugin is a fast and easy solution. With the plugin you can use your Adsense code to automatically insert ads into widgets (as well as your homepage, pages, posts, search results and more).
More Useful Widgets
We’ve covered a lot of widgets, but if you want to add a bunch of widgets all at once you might want to choose a bundle. These options below all add multiple awesome widgets within one plugin.
Google Maps Widget
Adding a map to your sidebar or footer is a great way to let your visitors/customers know exactly where your business is located. The Google Maps Widget plugin will allow you to quickly and easily add maps to your widgetized areas. Unlike standard embed codes the Google Maps Widget plugin takes it to the next level allowing you to easily create interactive maps with lightbox support. They also offer a PRO version with more then 50 added features and options such as skins, widget cloning, multiple pins support, Google Analytics integration and of course premium US-based support.
SiteOrigin Widget Bundle
The SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle provides a lot of options for just one plugin. It includes widgets for Google maps, buttons, images, call to action, pricing table, post carousel, features, videos, headline and social links. Plus they are all compatible with the SiteOrigin page builder to boot.
Gabfire Widget Pack
The Gabfire Widget Pack is just as impressive with a few more unique options to consider. The plugin adds widgets for videos, ad banners, recent tweets, an advanced archive search, Flickr feed, social icons, ajaxed post tabs, an author badge & bio, Feedburner subscription, related posts, Text+ (with added options for icons and buttons) and a social sharing widget.
The last plugin we wanted to share is probably one of the most useful – it’s the Widget Importer and Exporter. With this you can copy the widgets your have on one website and use them, in the exact same order and locations on a new website.
This is especially useful if you’re cloning your website on your local host, moving to a new hosting plan or if you have a multisite setup and want to re-use your widgets. Simply install the plugin on your WordPress website and export the JSON file, then install the plugin on your new site to import your widgets.
Download Weather Atlas Widget
Weather Atlas Widget is simple, but a great plugin for adding weather from virtually everywhere on the globe to WordPress based websites. It’s a fun way to add weather conditions to a ski chalet, hotel, amusement park, or other outdoor activity based website.
The widget is highly customizable – all design elements are adjustable, and weather data can be presented in various forms, languages, and units. One of the widget’s best features is its adaptivity. Background and borders adapt to current temperature, so you can interpret at a glance what the weather is like.
Weather condition icons are simple and beautiful, and also adapt size, color, and shades of widget’s text. Plus it’s responsive. This means it automatically adapts for displaying on mobile devices. Font size will adjust accordingly to web site’s font size (and the placement on a page as well as browser size).
We know there are thousands of widgets and widget plugins available but hopefully we’ve been able to help you find a few of the ones you might want or need. And all of the options shared are 100% free and can be found in the WordPress.org repository (so you can install theme right from your WordPress dashboard).
Did we miss anything? If there’s a widget you’re still looking for let us know and we’ll find it. Or if you have your own plugin to recommend leave us a comment below so we can check it out!