Building a Better Website with Widgets and Plugins

Written by Jan Corpus. Posted in Creative, Technology

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Published on January 25, 2017 with No Comments

Plugins and widgets are small applications inserted into websites to add specialized, custom features that enhance the functionality of the site or an individual page on the site. Plugins and widgets can be custom-created or downloaded ready to use from a variety of third party sources and hosting services.

Plugins and Widgets: What’s the Difference?

Although widgets are always plugins, many plugins don’t have widgets, or forms visible on the website and accessible by users. Plugins are secondary applications that perform a specialized task on the webpage, such as playing video, sharing a feed or managing subscriptions. Many plugins such as Flash player or Javascript, remain invisible. Users may be prompted to install this type of plugin when attempting to access content that requires it.

Plugins that enhance the performance of a website or page can be added through the site’s own plugin catalog. Users of social media sites like Facebook can access a variety of plugins that allow for sharing site content and connecting with external content. Blog development giant WordPress has an extensive list of plugins available for use with the many templates and themes it provides on the blogging platform, allowing users to create highly customized blog sites and pages.

Plugins are available from a variety of third-party developers as well. Plugins can be installed through plugin managers or inserted directly into a site’s HTML code, a strategy often employed to insert widgets into a page. The visible representation of a plugin, a widget is an object placed on a page or site. When clicked, the widget activates the plugin.

Webpage Widgets for Every Need

Whatever the need, there seems to be a widget for it. Webpage widgets expand the functionality of a site by adding services or capabilities such as bookmarking, sharing, polls and games. Like plugins, widgets can be added from the proprietary catalogs available from services such as WordPress, or they can be downloaded from third party developers. Although many widgets are free, some specialized ones require a fee to download.

Large widget catalogs such as Widgipedia and Widgetbox carry a wide range of widgets created by developers worldwide. Available for both Mac and Windows environments, these widgets perform functions including distributing content, capturing email addresses, connecting with other sites or running visitor polls.

Although many widgets depend on a plugin such as Flash player to run, standalone widgets that don’t require an engine are also available. Most widgets are installed by copying a provided piece of code into the HTML coding of the page that will display the widget, a process that can be done by accessing the page’s HTML view.

Creating Custom Widgets

If no widget that performs a desired function is available, new ones can be created. Widgetbox includes a widget builder option in its widget catalog. Those familiar with HTML code and web page development can design their own widgets for highly specialized functions. Since widgets are simply code, they can be adapted to suit virtually any website’s needs.

For most users, though, installing a widget or a plugin is as simple as selecting the desired element and inserting it where needed. WordPress, Facebook and other sites offering highly customized user options provide widgets and plugins in drag and drop forms as well, making it easy to add custom features to any page hosted by these services. Mostly free, widely available and easy to install, plugins and widgets perform a variety of functions to make websites work better.

Jennifer Carrigan wrote this article on behalf of PC Wholesale, where you can also find wholesale memory for your computer.

Edited by Jan Corpus

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