How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

Learn how to add and configure various useful WordPress widgets on your sidebar and how to create custom sidebar widgets …

Adding Widgets To The SidebarIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring a number of widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we show you how to complete the step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more useful widgets.

Important Info

In WordPress v. 4.8, WordPress introduced new media widgets covering images, audio, and video, and an updated text widget that supports visual editing

WordPress 4.8 - WordPress Widget Updates

(WordPress 4.8 introduced new widget updates)

These widgets let you add content from your media library and media stored in other servers or storage locations (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.).

Let’s go through how to configure and use each of these widgets:

Rich Text Widget

From version 4.8 onward, WordPress has added native rich-text editing capabilities to text widgets …

Rich Text Widget

(Rich Text Widget)

This lets you format text, create lists, add emphasis, and insert links into your sidebar text quickly and easily …

(Format text easily with the new text widget)

To learn more about using text widgets in WordPress, see the tutorial below:

WordPress Image Widget

The WordPress Image Widget lets you add an image to your sidebar from your Media Library or an external storage location.

To add an image, drag an image widget to your active widgets area …

Image Widget

(Image Widget)

Click on ‘Add Image’ …

Let's add an image!

(Let’s add an image!)

Select an image from the Image Library, check or add image details (e.g. Caption, Alt text, Description, etc.) if desired and click the ‘Add to Widget’ button …

Select an image

(Select an image)

The image will automatically load into the widget area …

Image added to widget

(Image added to widget)

Add a Title to your image if you want, or leave the ‘Title:’ field blank and click ‘Save’ …

Save your image

(Save your image)

Preview your website and you should see the image displayed where you have placed your image widget …

Image added to website using image widget

(Image added to website using WordPress image widget)

If you want to link your image to an URL, go back to your image widget and click on ‘Edit Image’ …

Image Widget - Edit Image

(Image Widget – Edit Image)

Add a URL in the ‘Image Details’ > ‘Display Settings’ > ‘Link To’ screen and click the ‘Update’ button …

Link your image to an URL

(Link your image to an URL)

To add an image stored in an external server or remote location, locate and copy the URL of the image to your clipboard …

Copy image URL to your clipboard

(Copy image URL to your clipboard)

Go back to your image widget and click on ‘Replace Image’ …

Image Widget - Replace image

(Image Widget – Replace image)

The Media Library browser opens. Click on ‘Insert from URL’ and paste in the image URL copied to your clipboard, then click on ‘Add to Widget’  …

Add image URL

(Add image URL)

If you have previously added an image title in your widget, remember to replace it if required, then click ‘Save’ …

Save your new image

(Save your new image)

The new image will now display on your sidebar …

New image added using WordPress image widget

(New image added using WordPress image widget)

To learn more about adding images to WordPress, see this tutorial:

WordPress Video Widget

The WordPress Video Widget lets you add audio files to your sidebar from your Media Library, YouTube, Vimeo, or an external storage location.

To add a video to the sidebar, drag a Video widget to your active widgets area …

Drag a Video widget to your sidebar

(Drag a Video widget to your sidebar)

Click the ‘Add Video’ button …

Video widget - Add Video

(Video widget – Add Video)

Select a video from your media library or add a video URL and click the ‘Add to Widget’ button …

Add a video URL

(Add a video URL)

Add a title to the widget if desired and click ‘Save’ …

WordPress Video Widget - Save Button

(WordPress Video Widget – Save Button)

Your video will display on your site where the video widget has been added …

Video added using WordPress video widget

(Video added using WordPress video widget)

To learn more about adding video to WordPress, see this tutorial:

WordPress Audio Widget

The WordPress Audio Widget lets you add audio files like podcasts, music or a personal greeting to your sidebar from your media library or an external storage location.

To add an audio file to your sidebar, drag an audio widget to your active widgets area …

Add an audio widget to your sidebar

(Add an audio widget to your sidebar)

Click the ‘Add Audio’ button…

WordPress Audio Widget - Add Audio button

(WordPress Audio Widget – Add Audio button)

Select an audio file from your media library or insert the URL of an audio file stored in an external location …

Select your audio file

(Select your audio file)

Add a title to your widget if desired and click the ‘Save’ button …

Save the audio file on your audio widget

(Save the audio file on your audio widget)

Your site will now display an audio file to visitors where you have placed the audio widget …

Audio file added to your site using the WordPress Audio Widget

(Audio file added to your site using the WordPress Audio Widget)

To learn more about adding audios to WordPress, see this tutorial:

Adding An RSS Widget

Let’s now add a widget to your sidebar that displays news updates from RSS feeds.

To add the widget, select an RSS widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your sidebar area …

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the RSS feed URL here.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add a widget title, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Select how many RSS feed items you want to display in your sidebar menu from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you want to show the RSS feed item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the combination that best suits your needs.

The example below shows a published RSS widget configured as per the settings shown above …

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation menu)

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured with other options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

To learn more about using RSS feeds in WordPress, see this tutorial:

Adding A Tag Cloud Section To The WordPress Sidebar Menu

Let’s now add A Tag Cloud widget to the sidebar navigation area.

Important

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags screen …

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

To add the widget, find a Tag Cloud widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to the active area …

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really not much to set up here. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when finished …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display WordPress tags

(Tag cloud set to display post tags)

The example below shows an Tag Cloud widget set to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud set to display categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories)

To learn more about using post tags in WordPress, see this tutorial:

Configuring The WordPress Archives Section In The Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is another commonly-used widget.

As you publish new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows site visitors to access WordPress posts that you may have published a while back …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really very little to configure in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts published each month . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows an Archives widget set up to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure your widgets in WordPress, let’s explore some other aspects of using WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful features of WordPress widgets:

Add ‘Visibility’ Function To Widgets

Installing the Jetpack plugin not only adds many new widgets to your widgets area …

Jetpack Widgets

(Jetpack Widgets)

It also adds a useful ‘Visibility’ function to all WordPress widgets …

Jetpack adds 'Visibility' to all widgets

(Jetpack adds ‘Visibility’ to all widgets)

This function lets you specify whether to display or hide widgets from your sidebar based on conditions you set for a particular category, author, user. role, tag, date, or page …

Set conditions to show or hide widgets

(Set conditions to show or hide widgets)

This is a really useful function to have.

For example, you can:

  • Display a widget only on your home page or only on posts published under certain categories, tags, authors, dates, etc.
  • Configure widgets to display specific or time-sensitive announcements based on a post’s category, date, etc.
  • Configure widgets to display targeted ad banners based on a post’s category or tag.
  • Hide widgets from appearing on certain posts or pages to prevent users from being distracted (e.g. remove widgets with ads from your sales pages).
  • And more!

To learn more about using the Jetpack plugin, go here:

Overriding Default Widgets

If you see widgets showing up on your site’s sidebar that aren’t listed in your active sidebar in the Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because some themes will display their own default set of widgets unless you add widgets to the sidebar.

For example, this site displays a couple of widgets in the sidebar …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets section, however, no widgets have actually been added to any of the available widget areas …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

The above theme is using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will disappear and be replaced with your selected widgets instead.

Note: If you want no widgets to appear in your sidebar menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar menu.

Just add a blank text widget …

Overriding Default Widgets

And the default widgets will not display in your sidebar/footer section …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you in an earlier example, WordPress lets you easily reorganize how information is displayed in widgetized areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop technology …

Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve your site's visitor experience

(Rearrange sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have redesigned the site’s sidebar by switching the search and testimonial sections. This is easily done by simply dragging and dropping the widget elements into different positions inside the sidebar widget area.

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve visitor experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you are unable to drag-and-drop widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still work with widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via the Screen Options, allows you to use Add and Edit buttons instead of dragging and dropping.

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your dashboard and go to Appearance > Widgets

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

Select Screen Options on the top right hand corner of the screen …

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Enable accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

Once accessibility mode has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets and the Active Widgets sections, widgets will display an Add and Edit link respectively …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

If you click on a Widget’s Add link in the Available Widgets section …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, with drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “4”, etc.) …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click Save Widget to add the widget to your Active Widgets section, or click the Cancel button to return to the previous screen …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays your selected widget with options for changing its settings.

Click Save Widget to return to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to delete the widget from the Active Widgets area …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to restore the drag & drop function to your Widgets …

Turn off accessibility mode

(Turn off accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Most of the widgets that you will use will either be installed by default when you create a new WordPress site, or be automatically added to your Available Widgets section when you install new plugins on your site.

Here is a simple way to create your own sidebar widgets:

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you would like to display on your sidebar menu…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Make sure that any images you use are resized to fit the maximum width of the sidebar. Also, keep in mind that there’s no a lot of room to add content on the sidebar navigation menu, so keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are really looking for is the content HTML to paste into a sidebar widget.

Once you have composed your content in the WordPress post editor, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Screen.

Insert a new Text widget into your sidebar, paste the content from your clipboard into the content field and click Save

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget is now added to the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure a number of WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Use Widgets

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