Few of WordPress’ features are as handy as its widget system, which enables you to implement complex features on your site with just a few clicks. However, it still has some issues. For example, you can’t customize your widgets or restrict the pages they will appear on without tinkering with your theme.
That’s where the Widget Options comes in. This plugin adds so many features to your WordPress widgets that it feels like you’re using an entirely new system. Best of all, it’s easy to setup and configure, which means you can start using it in just a matter of minutes.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the Widget Options’ free version, and talk about what features it offers, how they work, and the premium version which offers additional features. So, let’s take it from the top!
An Introduction to Widget Options
Widget Options isn’t the only plugin that attempts to improve the WordPress widget system, but it’s one of the few that gets it right. Not only are its features highly useful, the plugin feels like a natural extension of the WordPress platform (which isn’t typical for many plugins, both free and premium).
The plugin’s free version enables you to restrict the visibility of widgets to specific pages and types of devices, use custom alignments, hide the titles for each element, and even customize your widgets using CSS. There’s also a premium option, however, we’ll explore its features later on, as for now let’s focus on the free version.
Key Features of Widget Options’ Free Version
Right after you install the plugin, you’ll be directed to view a video tutorial that will provide you a crash course on the new features.
If you’re already familiar with WordPress’ widget system, chances are you won’t even need a crash course to start using the plugin. All you have to do is head to the Appearance >> Widgets tab on your dashboard and start tinkering. Most of the new settings are self-explanatory, though, we will cover some of the complex ones in a moment.
Before we dive deep into the Widget Options’ most useful features and how they work, let’s briefly review them:
- Enables you to customize your widgets using CSS
- Adds new alignment options for each widget
- Includes the option to add widgets only to specific pages or display them only on specific types of devices (e.g. tablets, desktops, etc.)
- Uses conditional tags to further customize each widget’s visibility settings
- Integrates with the SiteOrigin page builder
- Offers both free and premium versions
Naturally, most people like to see a plugin in action before deciding whether it’s a good fit for their site or not, so let’s check out a few of Widget Options’ outstanding features up close.
How to Use Widget Options to Level Up Your WordPress Widgets
Getting started with Widget Options is simple; first of all, you’ll want to configure which of the plugin’s features will appear on your Widgets page.
To do this, head to Settings >> Widget Options. Inside, you’ll find options to configure each of the plugin’s main functions and disable them if necessary:
Many features come with their own unique settings. For example, Pages Visibility lets you decide whether you want to restrict your widgets using post types and pages, as well as taxonomies:
After you decide which features you want to enable, make your way to the Appearance > Widgets screen to see the plugin in action. At first glance, you won’t notice any changes to your WordPress widgets. You’ll need to expand each individual element to check out the new options available for you. Take a look at the Search widget, for example:
The first thing you’ll notice is a new row of tabs with unique icons. It enables you to configure your widget’s visibility settings. In the example above, you can make these changes so that the widget disappears on any page of your choice:
Now, moving on to the next tab. It enables you to hide or show widgets for specific types of devices. This can be achieved by choosing the option you want from the drop-down list, and check off the devices you want to disable:
Next is the Alignment tab, which includes a single drop-down list to customize your widget’s alignment for all devices:
Finally, we have the Class & ID tab, which enables you to create unique IDs and as many classes as you want for each widget:
Doing this will enable you to customize your widget using CSS, just as you would style any other element in your WordPress website. If you’re the kind of user who likes to tinker with every aspect of your website, this is a feature you’re bound to appreciate.
What Widget Options’ Premium Version Offers You
Throughout our review so far, we’ve focused only on Widget Options’ free version, and it doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a straightforward plugin that adds plenty of features to your WordPress widgets, this one is definitely the way to go.
However, if you want to go beyond the features we covered in the previous section – alignment, visibility, and custom CSS options – you should consider purchasing the plugin’s premium version instead. Here’s what it enables you to do on top of the features we’ve discussed by far:
- Add responsive columns to your widgets
- Include CSS-based animations in your widgets
- Set up ‘sticky’ (or fixed) widgets
- Use shortcodes to insert and display your widgets wherever you want
- Customize your background colors, add images, and even style your forms
- Link users who click on your widgets to any internal or external URLs you want
- Add widget visibility restrictions according to user roles, specific dates, post types, days, and even taxonomies
- Enable child pages to inherit their parent’s visibility settings
- Disable any widgets you don’t want to appear on your dashboard for easier management
- Set up a caching solution for your widgets
To put it simply, you get a lot more options when it comes to visibility, as well as plenty of ways to customize how your widgets look and behave. If you consider yourself something of a power-user when it comes to widgets, picking up Widget Options’ premium version is definitely worth it.
When it comes to valuable features, Widget Options doesn’t disappoint anyone. This plugin manages to revamp the WordPress widget system without making it overly complex, which is quite an accomplishment, considering how many options it adds. Best of all, Widget Options feels like a natural extension of the platform.
If you do feel a bit overwhelmed by how many features this plugin provides, you should probably start off by tweaking the alignment settings. From there, you can move on to playing around with your widgets’ visibility options, and graduate to the big leagues by customizing them using CSS. After that, if you feel like you want more flexibility, then check out Widget Options’ premium version.
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If you have any questions about how to use Widget Options? Feel free to ask away in the comments section below!
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