In my opinion, one of the best things WordPress ever did was build widget support into the core. Widgets have been the saving grace for those that don’t like to mess with code but want to enhance their blog. However, there is still a lot that could be done to improve the way widgets work within WordPress. Where there are shortcomings in the core, there are usually plugins which step up and fill the gap. One such plugin is called Slayer’s Custom Widgets.
The following screenshots and descriptions are based on an unreleased version of this plugin.
While WordPress provides a way for users to enable/disable widgets, display which sidebar they appear in, and drag and drop functionality, WordPress does not provide a way for end users to configure where a particular widget is displayed beyond the sidebar. That is where this plugin really comes in handy. After installing and enabling the plugin, a new navigation menu will show up near the header of the WordPress administration area. This will take you to the plugins configuration page.
Once there, you should see a list of widgets that are currently active on your blog.
Clicking on one of the active widgets will take you to a page that gives you all sorts of options with regards to displaying the widget. For instance, you can have a widget be displayed on all posts but not pages. Or, you can have a widget be displayed on author pages but not category pages. Thanks to Slayer’s enhanced version, (1.2) you’ll be able to configure a widget to only display on certain template pages such as the singlepost page or the 404 page.
What does all of this granularity mean? It means that the sidebar in WordPress no longer has to display a static configuration of widgets on every single public page within WordPress. A great example of what you can do with this plugin would be to configure a slew of widgets to display only on the home page but when a visitor views a post on the singlepost page, the sidebar turns into widgets for related posts, tags, recent comments on that specific article, buttons to share the post, etc.
Every so often, a plugin comes along that makes me really excited. This happens to be one of them. The reason being is that for the longest time, I have harped on the fact that Widgets were being under utilized. I often describe how users of Joomla can assign modules to appear on specific pages or content types. Now, with this plugin, you can do the same thing in WordPress. When you have this level of granularity in configuring where specific widgets are displayed, it adds an entirely new level of fun and creativity to using WordPress. Not only that, but if this type of Widget configuration ever makes it into the core, Widgets for WordPress will see a major push in development.
Can you think of an example or two of why having this level of widget configuration would come in handy? Let me know in the comments.