Understanding Widgets – My Next Step

I have never really thought of what widgets where, even though I have used them on many occasions. I have used WordPress to create many websites, and customized themes in all kinds of areas. Normally though, I just create my own template files within the WordPress theme folder and just hard code all the “widgets” like categories and blogroll into the template files. Unfortunately it’s not that easy when you are dealing with a complete WordPress Theme.

If you want to make a theme popular there are a few things you have to keep in mind. WPDesigner has a nice list of stuff that can help make a theme more popular. Number three on the list is:

Is it generic? Your free theme will not be used by one client. It’ll be used by thousands of clients. It’s very important to keep all features generic. Stay away from hard-coding anything and stay away from too many non-customizable graphics.

Generic is probably the single most restraining word when designing themes, they have to be fluid and able to accept the most ridiculous content. You never know if someone wants to call their blog: http://llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.co.uk (Yes that is actually a working URL, and a village in North Wales). Returning to Widgets, you have no control over what widgets are going to be used with your theme, there a many widgets available to choose from, but the most common are: categories, archives, blogrolls etc. To quote one more of the important popular theme steps:

Is it widget-ready? The widget plugin now comes with WordPress so this is an obvious one. There’s no more reasons to not widgetize your theme.

Automattic has some great info about making your theme widget ready which will come in useful. Making a theme ready for widgets is all about wrapping code in CSS classes and id’s and then have some kind of uniform styling for them. What I’m most concerned about is that widgets can contain so many elements from text to images, and that might make the horizontal division hard. It will at least be hard to make it look good.

/Kasper – on Twitter and Delicious


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