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    Plugins vs Widgets On WordPress - What Is The Difference?

    You can do many things to enhance the performance and look and feel of your WordPress (WP) website today. Plugins add valuable functions to your site, while widgets can make it more engaging. How are they different? What is each add-on responsible for? 

    Knowing the difference between the two can help you customize your website exclusively for your target audience, and make the most of these powerful additions.

    Read on to find out more about plugins and widgets, including their core differences. 

    What Is A Plugin?

    Downloadable software written in PHP script that can add unique functions to a website is called a plugin. WP plugins are software extensions that help webmasters add functions and features that are typically not available with the bare WordPress offering. They are generally installed and activated from the server-side to make all features available on the front-end through an API. 

    While there are 54,00 plugins available on WP, an ideal website uses five to twenty plugins, depending on their best WordPress hosting plan configurations. 

    Here are some examples of leading WP plugins: 

    • Jetpack is a plugin that speeds up sites and comes with multiple functions such as image optimization, performance analytics, and website security. 
    • Yoast SEO is a plugin for optimizing content in order to improve rankings on search engines. 
    • OptinMonster can be installed on your WP site for monetizing with the help of pop-ups.
    • Shortcodes Ultimate is a free plugin to add custom shortcodes directly into web pages.
    • WooCommerce is the perfect plugin to transform your WP site into a fully-fledged ecommerce site, complete with a shopping cart module, payment gateways, and other tools. 

    What Is A Widget? 

    If you have ever used a search bar on a website, you know what a widget looks like. 

    Widgets are blocks of interactive content such as tag clouds, navigation, and post categories that can be added to parts of your website such as sidebars, headers, footers, and more, enhancing its appearance. Simply put, widgets are a kind of add-on that improves the way your website looks and feels to the target audience, through an intelligent display. 

    Here are a few examples of the top WP widgets:

    • Instagram Feed is a widget that displays your active Instagram content in a format of your choice.
    • HubSpot is a free widget that includes several resources such as live chat, chatbot, overlay pop-up buttons, and much more.
    • Google Maps is a classic interactive widget to add if you are specifying the location of your business on your webpage. 

    The Main Difference

    Working in tandem, plugins and widgets improve the way your content influences the audience. What makes them different from each other? Find out the three key differences below. 

    • Functionality vs Visibility - While plugins enrich the functionality of your website, widgets increase the engagement of your visitors by upgrading the way your website looks. Plugins add features while widgets organize content.
    • Performance vs Interaction - Plugins can improve the load response time of your pages and make your website powerful and efficient. On the flip side, widgets utilize the most of the whitespace, sidebar, or footer areas of your website.
    • Visible vs Invisible - Widgets are able to be seen by users on the front end of websites, unlike plugins which are parts of code on the back end.

    When To Choose Each One

    Widgets in WP are geared towards providing visitors with user-friendly and engaging sections of your site without having to change the code. On the other hand, plugins expand the variety of features on your website. 

    In short, you would need to look for a plugin when you need to add new functions to your website, and search for widgets when you are looking to organize information. For example, if you need to add layers of security, you would add a WP plugin called WordFence as it comes with malware protection and firewalls. 

    Conversely, if you want to improve the appearance of your website, widgets can offer a plethora of design options such as the Ultimately widget that adds social media icons. 

    WordPress comes with built-in widgets, but you can add more widgets by installing plugins.

    Summing Up

    Plugins enrich websites to an endless degree in order to customize, add functions, and solve any problem. Widgets make your website more appealing to the target audience by creating visible, often interactive, sections. 

    Any professional and visually appealing website you have ever seen probably makes use of both of these valuable add-ons, as they complement each other perfectly to strike a balance between a website’s appearance and its functionality.