Photo from Stock That Rocks
There’s a whole lot that goes into adding features and functionality to your WordPress blog, and more times than not, it comes down to using widgets and plugins. Like most people, we sometimes use the words interchangeably–which is totally incorrect, and we should probably stop doing. But this, coupled with the fact that they can appear to have very similar functions, blurs the lines even further. Today we’re nailing down the differences between widgets and plugins, and helping you understand how they go hand in hand.
- Plugins are pieces of code that you can add to the existing WordPress code, to provide a functionality.
- Not all plugins are seen by your readers or subscribers on the front-end. For example, Akismet is a plugin which we use, that checks comments for spam.
- If a plugin does need to be seen by readers, there is a visual, interactive ‘part’ of it that will be seen on the front-end of your blog, which is called–wait for it–a widget.
- Think of widgets as the visual, interactive portion of a plugin.
- Widgets are placed in ‘widgetized areas’ on your blog or site. An example of a widgetized area is the sidebar.
- Widgets can be seen on the front-end of your site, and display something that your readers can see or click on.
- A ‘search’ function, links to your social media channels, or archives of past posts are all examples of widgets.
In short, plugins work behind-the-scenes, adding functionality to your blog. Widgets are on the main stage, and are something your readers can interact with or click on. Widgets are always plugins, in that they have some amount of code on the back-end that is helping to perform the function. However, plugins don’t always have widgets–an example of this is an SEO plugin or spam comment checker like Akismet.