WordPress Plugins for Sidebars and Widgets

Making a website intuitive and dedicated to its visitors is all about strategy – just like in a supermarket, you have to know how to organize it so customers won’t get lost while being persuaded to purchase exactly what they need (and preferably more than that). In short, it’s extremely important to get their attention in a prolific manner, but useful for themselves the most.

Every successful website makes it easy for its visitors to scroll through it, having the necessary information all over the pages, but in an organized and thoughtful way. One way to do this is by using the right combination of colors, text and the right words and photos to give them a boost.

Another more compelling manner to light up their way through your website is by using widgets and plugins. Since the plugin part is covered in other posts, today is all about widgets, the game changer which brings satisfaction both to the website owners and visitors. These being said, in case you are looking forward to knowing more concerning the subject, make sure to stick with us and keep an eye onto the following lines in order to meet our top 12 WordPress plugins for sidebars and widgets in 2020!

What is a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets?

Starting with WordPress version 2.2, there has been made a new and rather interesting change in the website builder’s overall appearance and functionality. This version introduced widgets, further known as one of the trademarks of the WordPress world. At that time, every theme you’d want to download and use would come with a bunch of widgets – and there’s no wonder why, since they are pretty useful and makes the process of reading a website easier and more natural than ever before.

The WordPress plugins for widgets come in various numbers are forms. As time went by, they started to be more attractive, featuring a higher number of functionalities and overall an element no website would go without. And you have definitely stumbled upon them until now, especially if you have been surfing online from one place to the other.

A widget can be spotted as being anything from a search function to a list with blog archives and various links to related posts. Making them appear on your website is basically a simple and plain use of a widget (or more), depending on how you wish to get your visitors’ attention.

After the WordPress version 2.2 has been released, WordPress 4.8 came to life eventually and provided a set of important updates related to widgets. Due to this aspect, WordPress comes with 17 default widgets from the very first use of it, all free-of-charge, such as: Calendar, Text, Archives, Video and the list goes on.

There are two vast categories of WordPress widgets at the moment. The first one comes with the default widgets that a WordPress website provides any user with, whereas the second category features a list of dedicated ones, some of which may be free or premium. Also, they can be easily inserted in various places to make things go and work as expected.

Why should you use a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets?

Right from the beginning, the mere use of a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets is a bliss. There are various reasons why inserting a widget might bring great advantages to your WordPress website.

The first argument is that sidebars make a website more appealing than ever. They help your visitors read the necessary information without having to display the entire content on the main page, yet it can be used so to be always exhibited on a website, on a permanent basis while someone surfs your website.

In a sidebar, as a widget, you’ll find a bunch of your recent posts, together with a list related to the website pages, some of the popular posts out there and even add-ons. Still, that’s not the only bits of information that is stored in there.

Another reason why a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets is an absolute must is the fact that it adds up great and valuable components. Within these, you can store useful information which wouldn’t appear the same on the main content area. Moreover, it can display data about specific tasks on your website without interfering with your current content flow.

Navigating through a website gets easier and more delightful yet enchanting when sidebars and widgets are being used. Basically, they offer links to anything, such as recent posts, search function, tags and categories – and some others from here on. In the same list we can add external networks, like social media sharing and follow.

However, the website owner has full control over the manner in which things are being displayed. They are either already included into a certain theme or about to be manually introduced, after you have made your choice and downloaded it. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the free WordPress themes come with the same sidebar which is displayed on the very same place, regardless of the page or the post. Unfortunately, this feature is usually rather limited and makes no sense, leaning things towards looking a little bit illogical.

Fortunately though, the premium themes come with no limitations and make it possible for additional sidebars and widgets to be introduced and changed as expected. This is something you should definitely go for, and this is the main reason why we considered looking into what’s on the market and make our choices related to what should be displayed on a successful WordPress website.

What are the best WordPress plugins for sidebars and widgets?

As expected, the wide variety of WordPress plugins for sidebars and widgets available online makes it quite hard for users to decide upon a choice they’ll never regret. The following top 12 covers both free and premium widgets, which have been researched and tested for providing the most accurate information. Let’s start:

1. SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle

Installs: 1,000,000+ | Rating: 4.9/5 stars

Provide an excellent outlook to your website using a complete solution, known as SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle. Being a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets, this one comes up with over 22 dedicated widgets ought to improve your website’s appearance. Some of these are: contact form, Google Maps, various buttons for call-to-action, option for testimonials, image sliders and a pricing table. Trust me, these are helpful for any website which is business-oriented.

Each and every aforementioned widget is completely customizable, using various colors and over 1,500 icons. In short, you can get a lot (for your website’s benefit) by using it starting today.

But that’s not all – SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle features image grid, layout slider, tabs, taxonomy and masonry widgets, which are great for fulfilling various tasks, such as adding images, building layouts, positioning content in various tabbed sections and many more.

Each widget can be managed and customized by following the next path: Plugins -> SiteOrigin Widgets. It can be found within the WordPress admin and it is a serious call-to-action for any website owner. Moreover, you can get free support on various support forums managed by SiteOrigin, as well as important information on widgets’ usage found within the available documentation.

Moreover, this plugin comes free-of-charge during a lifetime, with a bunch of licenses and renewals that are upgraded automatically. The only thing a user needs to do is to simply download it. Again, let’s recap:

— Highlights:

• Comes with a lot of features, such as contact forms, pricing table, testimonials, Google Maps, buttons for call-to-action and an image slider;
• The total number of featured widgets overcomes 22;
• All of them are easy to be customized.

— Pricing:

• SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle comes free-of-charge. All the updates are automatically made, without you having to worry about that.

2. Content Aware Sidebars

Installs: 40,000+ | Rating: 4.9/5 stars

Improve your website quality and targeted content with the mere use of a great WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets. The Content Aware Sidebars has two of the main and most important characteristics in the online world, known as power and management.

Each post is unique and should be treated differently – at least, that’s what we get in theory. In reality terms, it applies, but only if the delimitation is made on a nice touch. Basically, what the Content Aware Sidebars does is that it creates different and separated widgets and sidebars for various posts, so they will not look the same. By this way, the sidebar gets both more personalized and higher targeted.

Within the settings part of this plugin, you’ll find a set of conditional logic sidebars that can be easily handed through an interface that is bare and simple. Moreover, over 13 options related to sidebars display are available for you to choose from, such as taxonomy, post type, template, author and more for you to find out about.

— Highlights:

• Provides customized sidebars and widgets for different posts, making them more targeted and personalized;
• Features more than 13 options in which the sidebars can be displayed;
• Comes in handy at any time.

— Pricing:

• The Content Aware Sidebars is completely free to download, install and further, use.

3. Relevanssi

Installs: 100,000+ | Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Make your website easier to follow and read using one of the most handy and prolific solutions on the market. Relevanssi is a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets specially designed to give a hand to your visitors while they are searching for relevant content on your website.

Not only will they be guided towards the main focus, but they will also be persuaded into revisiting your website due to the sense of satisfaction that the plugin provides to them. And this is a total win.

Regardless of the fact that WordPress comes with a default widget with all of these features, there are not as great as expected. This is the main reason why choosing Relevannsi is ought to make your website better and faster. Technically speaking, it sorts the results found after introducing words in a search box better by relevance than the elements provided by the WordPress built-in solution.

After installing the plugin, the search widget will look the same as the default one provided by WordPress, but don’t you worry – it will be all handled by Relevannsi. Let’s recap:

— Highlights:

• Better relevance in sorting the results obtained through the search widget;
• Takes over the default option’s engine and replaces it with a way better one;
• Makes the entire experience of having a new WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets completely delightful.

— Pricing:

• Relevannsi is completely free.

4. Ninja Forms

Installs: 1,000,000+ | Rating: 4.4/5 stars

Having a flawless sidebar up on your website is one of the key features of using Ninja Forms. It is specially designed to help you have a contact form, through which all of your visitors would be able to get to you.

Unfortunately though, this feature is not a default element that comes with all of the WordPress plugins for sidebars and widgets available now on the market. However, Ninja Forms ticks this off from the list, being a rather important reason why it makes a great choice.

Regardless of the fact that it is super easy to use, you’ll get plenty of advanced fields, as well as options for customization which are quite important. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From the first usage, you can design various build forms with basic elements. There is no limitation related to their number, so you can actually add as many forms, actions, emails and submissions as possible.

However, the entire experience of using Ninja Forms is not completed if you don’t go for its add-ons. Using the personal membership, you’ll have file uploads, multi-part forms, conditional logic, PayPal Express, layouts and styles, as well as constant contact, ConvertKit, campaign monitor, Emma and EmailOctopus.

There is also the professional membership. This one features add-ons like recurly, user management, post creation, stripe, zapier and webhooks, as well as a discount of almost 40% on various other purchases you might make related to add-ons.

Nonetheless, the agency membership of Ninja Forms is probably the most exhaustive and the widest of them all. Besides various unlimited licenses on the entire number of plugins found in the personal and professional memberships, you also get the following add-ons: Zoho CRM, Slack, SalesForce, Trello, Aweber, Insightly CRM, PipelineDeals, MailPoet, ClickSend, Excel Export and many more. In a nutshell:

— Highlights:

• Features sidebars and widgets, which come with the WordPress plugin from the very beginning;
• User-friendly and makes the entire experience smooth and easy;
• It has a wide set of advanced fields.

— Pricing:

• Without any add-on, Ninja Forms is a free-of-charge WordPress solution.

5. Testimonials Widget

Installs: 40,000+ | Rating: 4.3/5 stars

Make the voice of both your visitors and customers be heard through a WordPress plugin that is totally worth it. Building social proof has never been easier or more enchanting than now – with the help of Testimonials Widget plugin, a social tool used to spread the word about what you do and how you do.

By definition, testimonials are known as great fragments of information which are created by people who have directly interacted with you and experienced the process of obtaining a service or a product. That’s amazing, since word-of-mouth remains one of the most powerful sources of trust people look for when deciding to go for something.

By using the Testimonials Widget plugin, you can put up anything from words, paragraphs of text, images, videos and many more. All of them are perfectly arranged using a slider, upon your own wish – which one should be displayed first, which one second and which one never. Moreover, they can be grouped on categories.

With the latest version of Testimonials Widget plugin, you can also add up some portfolio items, useful enough to manage your website’s reputation. Here’s how:

— Highlights:

• Share with your visitors and future clients some words from former visitors/clients;
• Increases the online reputation through word-of-mouth;
• Great features, such as fancy sliders, images, videos and blocks of text.

— Pricing:

• The Testimonials Widget plugin is also free-of-charge.

6. Recent Posts Widget Extended

Installs: 200,000+ | Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Another free yet extremely appealing WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets is Recent Posts Widget Extended. This one makes the navigation through your website just like a dance, with all the steps and moves being known in advance. But let’s actually see how.

The vast majority of the websites have a sidebar that is filled with various blog posts. Usually, this is what visitors look for when navigating a site. Still, technically speaking, three wide types of widgets for navigation are included in here, such as recent, popular and related posts.

The Recent Posts Widget Extended is actually a solution that specifically targets the recent posts. With its help, you can show on your website a combination between a thumbnail and an excerpt that is related to each and every post. This is a rather nice and delightful manner to get things going in a great way, since people will be more than excited to have everything so easy to follow on your website. Moreover, you get to target various posts that are rather recent and are part of certain categories.

With Recent Posts Widget Extended, you can create a new order of your posts based on various criteria, such as publication date or the comments that are most recent.

Without further ado, it’s indeed a nice catch. Let’s see again why and how:

— Highlights:

• Features a set of recent posts that have been published on your website;
• Integrates them in various categories;
• Provides both thumbnails and excerpts of every post.

— Pricing:

• The Recent Posts Widget Extended is free and available to be installed and used.

7. WordPress Popular Posts

Installs: 300,000+ | Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Aside recent posts, there are also the most popular posts that make the best of it on a website. With the help of the WordPress Popular Posts plugin, you can show to your visitors what they should not forget to read if they want to get the best out of your website.

As you probably expect, the most popular posts on a website managed to receive such a mark due to the fact that they have been the most frequently read on a daily basis. Thus, there’s no reason why you should not display them for further read, especially towards the new visitors who just happen to come across your website.

This could be easily done using the WordPress Popular Posts plugin, since it shows directly the thumbnails of each post, together with various categories and time range that is specific to each and every one of them. Also, there’s also possible for you to set up more popular posts widgets at the same time, even though they come with different settings.

In order to decide among the posts which should be considered as the most popular, remember to use filters such as the traffic during a 24-hour period of time, two days, 10 days, one month or any period of time you want.

— Highlights:

• Displays which posts have received the best traffic;
• Offers a wide range of best posts on your website for your visitors, making the first impression great from the very beginning;
• Compatible with other plugins for most popular posts.

— Pricing:

• The WordPress Popular Posts plugin requires no money to be paid in order to be used (with all of its features).

8. Contextual Related Posts

Installs: 70,000+ | Rating: 4.8/5 stars

If the WordPress plugins for sidebars and widgets we have previously discussed about were rather straight-forward and on point, this one requires longer explanations. The Contextual Related Posts widget is more exhaustive and requires a special algorithm based on which your website can determine which posts are related and which not.

This is a tremendously important trick, since visitors usually enjoy continuing their read of a post with something that goes right on the same line. Not only is this helping them, but it is also a time-saving hint both for them and for yourself. There are hundreds of researches made online on how quickly visitors get disturbed – and you’ll most definitely not enjoy to give them reasons to leave your website.

This is indeed one of the greatest reasons why the Contextual Related Posts widget is a great catch for you. Besides displaying the title of the post and the content as well, the algorithm can look up and set which posts are related one to each other. Even so, there’s the possibility of passing over various posts or categories in case you are not keen on them too much.

Each related post has both thumbnails and cached posts. This combination is useful enough to make the website speed faster and thus make your visitors spend less time on loading your pages.

It is important to add that the Contextual Related Posts widget makes it possible to introduce various custom post types into the related results. This helps various custom sites.

— Highlights:

• Comes with an exhaustive widget used for navigating through your website;
• Creates a list of posts that are related one with the other;
• Is rather easy to use and requires no technical background.

— Pricing:

• The Contextual Related Posts plugin is up and ready to be installed for no money.

9. Monarch (Full Review here)

Installs: 1,000,000+ | Rating: 4.6/5 stars

Having a powerful set of social media accounts is the key of attracting new and aspiring customers. People are always interested in anything that goes viral, and some ass-kicking accounts are what you need to help you get going.
Monarch is a WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets which is mostly built on social media. It covers the share and follow buttons, together with a nice tutorial on setting them. Trust me, you’re going to love this.

Monarch is the most debated yet used and prolific social media plugin on the market. It features a wide variety of utilities, as well as an impeccable design. Its usage is far from harsh, making the entire experience rather a lovely hands-on to knowing how to get yourself new visitors and customers. And today, a business (or a plain website) with no social interaction has few to zero chances towards making the top.

The social and follow buttons Monarch comes with are easy to be included within the sidebar, where any visitor can spot them and click on them immediately. This way, you’ll also improve your reputation, since a high number of followers is a great source of trust nowadays. However, remember that quality should be the main goal of a website owner.

— Highlights:

• Social and follow buttons which are quick and easy to be inserted on the sidebar;
• Makes the top among the WordPress plugins for sidebars and widgets;
• Comes with a bunch of key features you wouldn’t want to miss out.

— Pricing:

• Monarch can be purchased using the Elegant Themes Membership at an annual price of $89.

10. Widget Options

Installs: 100,000+ | Rating: 4.9/5 stars

Having control over how everything looks on your website is a must. Since the main page is the main interface between you and a possible client, you wouldn’t want to ruin that – for sure. Widget Options is a great tool specially designed to help you hold control over the rest of the widgets which are up on your website. That’s basically a mastermind related to widgets which, actually, is pretty nice and helpful.

Since the devices used usually require optimization, change in resolution and some other key modifications, the Widget Options solution makes sure to switch the sizes, dimensions and contrasts automatically. By default, it provides a website owner with the possibility of choosing which widgets can be displayed on which device, so that the result would be in the website’s favor – no overly-high load times, a friendly user experience and a great navigation path for visitors to feel like home.

Moreover, you can even hide the title of certain widgets, as well as add custom alignments to specific widgets. Again, let’s not forget about:

— Highlights:

• Comes with the possibility of hiding or showing certain widgets, upon the condition you set;
• Makes it possible for the widget titles to be hidden;
• It adds custom alignments to widgets.

— Pricing:

• The Widget Options plugin is free-of-charge.

11. Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed

Installs: 900,000+ | Rating: 4.9/5 stars

Use the help of yet another free WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets. The Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed creates a great binder between content and images using not only sources from your media library, but those which are directly from your own social accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram and more. It comes with a perfect rating of 5/5 stars, counted from over 2,400 reviews. It is indeed huge, so we shouldn’t have why to put its efficiency under question.

The Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed makes it possible to display thumbnails on a website, as well as images that have either medium or full dimensions. On top of that, various Instagram accounts can actually be combined in order to get the one you actually dream of – and best fits your posts.

Still, these images don’t need to be uploaded on your personal Instagram account in order to function and be linked. Any account that is non-private works and makes wonders. You just have to click Load More and the rest will come further.

— Highlights:

• Has a perfect 5/5 stars rating that has been gathered from over 24,000 reviews;
• Comes with the possibility of creating a link with social media platforms, from which to upload images directly (Instagram);
• Provides a massive user experience.

— Pricing:

• The Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed requires no money to be paid in order to be purchased.

12. Dropdown Menu Widget

Installs: 100,000+ | Rating: 4.2/5 stars

Help your website get more and more intuitive and ready to be navigated with the mere use of a great WordPress plugin for sidebars and widgets. Believe it or not, the Dropdown Menu Widget is indeed a method of managing and organizing the content on your website. But let’s actually see what it is all about.

The Dropdown Menu Widget functions based on your posts and content. It organizes a menu upon the categories used, as well as the pages that you have previously created – and that’s definitely a match for you. This solution features layouts that are both horizontal and vertical, as well as themes that can be customized in a blink upon the website owner’s requests.

Even so, since November 2009, it gained a rating of 3,6 out of 5.

— Highlights:

• Features a built-in solution for organizing a menu which is filled with the right pages and categories found on your website.
• Comes up with layouts that are both vertical and horizontal;
• Makes it rather easy to cope with the process of owning a website.

— Pricing:

• The Dropdown Menu Widget requires no money to be paid for.

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