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 30+ of our favorite FREE WordPress widget ready plugins. So without waiting any longer, let’s have a look!
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 free sidebar plugins make it easy.
Custom Sidebars offers exactly what you’d think – custom sidebar areas that you can assign to any and every page, post, category, archive and post type on your website. Just create a new sidebar and globally define where it should be displayed (or assign it to a specific page).
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).
Simple Page Sidebars
If you want a quick and simple plugin try Simple Page Sidebars. The plugin uses built-in WordPress caching to keep your admin dashboard fast, while still providing you with the ability to create and assign custom sidebars to individual pages.
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.
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.
Meks Smart Social Widget
The Meks Smart Social widget includes simple options for 40 social icons each with 3 different stules to choose from (sqyare, circle and rounded corners). Simply insert the widget then add a bit of intro text, select an icon shape and pixel size then add your links. Easy!
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.
With the free Instagram Feed plugin it’s easy to display a responsive layout of any number of Instagram photos from a single (or multiple) Instagram account. There are tons of options for customizing your grid such as image width, height, count, columns, background, spacing an more. Just format your feed and paste the shortcode in a sidebar text widget.
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.
MailChimp for WordPress
If you’re using MailChimp, then the MailChimp for WordPress plugin is a superb option. The plugin adds options for creating a simple subscription optin for your sidebar or footer, in addition to a newsletter subscription options for comments, BuddyPress registration, bbPress, EDD or WooCommerce checkout.
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.
Popular Posts Tabbed Widget for Jetpack
For a more unique look you could add a tabbed posts widget instead. The Popular Posts Tabbed Widget uses Jetpack to find your recent posts, most popular posts and most commented on posts. Plus there are simple options for number of posts, thumbnail size and first tab.
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.
If you just want to display your contact information (and not a form) then consider the free Contact Widgets Plugin. This simple plugin adds two new widgets to your WordPress site: one for your personal or business contact information (email, phone, fax and address with a Google map), and another for your social profiles.
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.
Ultimate Widget Light
The Ultimate Widgets Light plugin similarly offers a lot of widget options. The plugin includes an about me, contact info, Flickr stream, Instagram, MailChimp newsletter signup, custom menu, text and video widgets.
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.
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!