The game has two main modes. Much like in The Incredible Machine, users can solve a variety of puzzles using a limited selection of parts or tinker with the freeform mode. Widget Workshop focuses more on the freeform mode than the other game.
Unlike the Rube Goldberg nature of The Incredible Machine, the parts in Widget Workshop are not mechanical or physical. Items include display boxes, graphing windows, random number generators, and mathematical tools ranging from addition and subtraction to Boolean logic gates and trigonometric functions. The arrangement of the items on screen doesn't matter, but the connections do: a numerical constant box could be connected to a mathematical function; connected to a graph, which would display a horizontal line; input as a color value on an RGB monitor; or even used to trigger a sound effect.