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 …

Using Widgets In WordPressIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various WordPress widgets.

In this final installment, we are going to conclude this step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more useful widgets.

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:

Add A Newsfeed Section To The WordPress Sidebar

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar navigation area that displays news updates from An RSS feed.

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

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Enter the RSS feed URL here.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add a title to the widget, type it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of items to show in your sidebar area from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box to display the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you would like to display the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to display the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the ideal combination for you.

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

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows the RSS widget configured using some of the other options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud To The WordPress Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to display clickable tags on the sidebar area.

Important Info

Tags displayed in the Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags panel …

Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

To insert the widget, find a Tag Cloud widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your sidebar …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really very little to set up here. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when done …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar navigation area …

Tag Cloud widget set to display tags

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress post tags)

The example below shows a published Tag Cloud widget configured for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display categories)

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

Configuring Your WordPress Archives Section In The Blog Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is another common widget.

As you keep publishing 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 blog readers to access WordPress posts that you may have published some months ago …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s not much to configure in this widget. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar in a dropdown menu, and display post counts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set up for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

Archives widget added to blog sidebar

(Archives Widget added to sidebar area)

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

Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful features worth knowing about 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 WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, this site displays widgets in the sidebar section …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets area, however, you will see that no widgets have been added to any of the available widget areas …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

The theme above may be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with your newly-added widgets instead.

Note: If you don’t want anything to show up in your sidebar navigation menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

And the default widgets won’t display in the sidebar/footer section …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained previously, with WordPress you can completely reorder how content is displayed in widgetized areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve user experience

(Reorganize sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

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

Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can improve user experience.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via your Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag and drop.

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

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Enable 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 links respectively …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on a Widget’s Add link in the Available Widgets section …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, plus dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, 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 go back to the previous screen …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display your selected widget with options for changing the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to update your settings and return to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to delete the widget from the Active Widgets section …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to go back to using drag & drop …

Disable accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets – An Easy Cheat

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 by plugins that you install on your website.

If you want to create your own custom sidebar widget, then here is an easy way:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you want to display in your sidebar menu…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use are resized to fit the maximum width of the sidebar navigation menu. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to put content on your sidebar menu, so keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we really want is the content so we can paste it into the sidebar widget.

After composing your content, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to the sidebar section…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure various frequently-used sidebar widgets.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In WordPress

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