Widgets have long been a feature of WordPress with a number of default widgets being bundled, they are a great way to give the user control over placing additional elements on the page in the areas provided by the theme author. A lot of themes will include some custom widgets for different things bundled in the code which is great until you come to change themes, if you change themes you will lose the widgets provided by your old theme and any content you placed in them. One way around this is to use a plugin to handle your custom widgets so you can keep them with any theme.

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One such plugin is called Ultimate Widgets, a very comprehensive widgets plugin which includes 20 widgets covering many different things you may need to add to your theme. It is available free from the WordPress directory and includes 5 widgets, or the pro version is available for $19 which includes the full 20 widgets. Today Im going to take a look at what is included and how the plugin works.

Note: this review was carried out with the Pro version of the plugin.

Ultimate Widgets Free » Ultimate Widgets Pro »

What Widgets are Included

As I mentioned this plugin is really comprehensive with what is included, here is the full listing of what's in each version:

Light Version

  • About Me Widget - A widget that talks to you.
  • Contact Info Widget - Add contact info, phone, email, etc.
  • Flickr Stream Widget - Images from your Flickr account.
  • MailChimp Widget - Displays subscription form.
  • Menu Widget - Displays a custom menu.

Pro Version

  • About Me Widget - A widget that talks to you.
  • Ads Widget - Display ads in your sidebar.
  • Contact Info Widget - Add contact info, phone, email, etc.
  • Facebook Widget - Support for Facebook page plugin.
  • Flickr Stream Widget - Images from your Flickr account.
  • Google Map Widget - Displays google map.
  • Login Widget - Displays login form.
  • MailChimp Widget - Displays subscription form.
  • Menu Widget - Displays a custom menu.
  • Posts Slider Widget - Displays a slider of your posts.
  • Posts Thumbnails Widget - A listing of your recent posts.
  • Slideshow Widget - Displays a custom menu.
  • Social Buttons Widget - Displays your social profiles.
  • Soundcloud Widget - Displays a soundcloud player.
  • Tabs Widget - Displays recent, comments, tags.
  • Testimonial Widget - Displays a testimonial slider.
  • Text Widget - Displays of text or HTML content.
  • Twitter Widget - Adds support for your tweets.
  • Video Widget - Add a video in your sidebar.
  • Weather Widget - Displays weather in the sidebar.

How the Plugin Works

After installing and activating the plugin you will see a new menu item added, named "UW Panel" which is where you can set some options for the plugin. The "Widgets" link allows you to set options for the plugin - you can minify the CSS and Javascript and choose which widgets you would like to activate: you can turn on or off every widget so it will only include the CSS and JS needed for the widgets you choose, this is a great feature as I was worried about including lots of unnecessary code if you only wanted to use one or two widgets.

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The "Styling" tab allows you to choose from 6 different default styles for your widgets, there is also styling options for a number of the widgets such as setting margins, padding, link colors and so on.

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If you need to make CSS changes to tweak any of the widgets, there is a "Custom CSS" tab where you can paste in your code:

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Finally, because the plugin uses the Redux framework, it has a built-in import / export section so you can transfer your plugin settings easily to another site.

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The Widgets

Now we have seen the plugin settings, Im going to pick a few of the widgets to look at in more detail. I will focus on the ones included in the free version so you can try these out for yourself at no cost. Adding them is done by visiting "Widgets" in your admin menu and you will see they are all prefixed with "UW-" so they are all grouped together.

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About Me Widget

The About Me widget is really useful one, it adds a block to your sidebar with your photo, name, description and social media links. You can also add a header background and choose some color options as well as the global styles you set previously.

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This is how it looks on the front-end in the default WordPress theme :

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Contact Info Widget

Again, this is a nice one to include for free as a lot of website will need this. It allows you to display your address, phone numbers, skype, email address and so on. You can choose from large or small icons and enter some descriptive text.

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Here is how it looks:

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Flickr Stream

The Flickr stream displays your latest photos from Flickr, you can choose how many columns and number of photos to display.

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Which displays your photos like so :

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Mailchimp

Another useful one! Unfortunately this widget doesnt use the Mailchimp API to connect to your account so you will need to generate a form at mailchimp and then copy the form action into the widget

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Displays a nice newsletter signup form :

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Pricing

The plugin is available free to download here, which includes the About Me Widget, Contact Info Widget, Flickr Stream Widget, MailChimp Widget and the Menu Widget. If you wish to get all 20 widgets you can grab the full version for $19 from Codecanyon here which gives you a license to use it on one website. There is also an extended version available for $95 which gives you the right to bundle it with a theme which you intend to sell.

Conclusion

This is a great little plugin with some good attractive widgets that will come in handy for most websites, saving you the time of coding them by hand or seeking out separate plugins for each feature you wish to add. The fact you can choose to only include the CSS or Javascript for each widget you wish to use is great, a lot of these types of plugins will just bundle everything into one big file, slowing down your loading times for features you are not even using. Check out the free version and consider upgrading if you like what you see.

Ultimate Widgets Free » Ultimate Widgets Pro »

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Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift and ThemeFurnace, find out more on my Personal Blog. Thanks!