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 …

How To Add Widgets To WordPressIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring a number of commonly-used widgets.

In this final installment, we show you how to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more commonly-used sidebar widgets.

Important

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 Sidebar

Let’s add An RSS widget to the sidebar.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the ideal combination for your blog.

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

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation area)

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

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to display a list of tags on your sidebar menu.

Useful Info

Tags displayed in the widget can be found in the Tags screen …

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

To use the widget, select a Tag Cloud widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your sidebar area …

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to configure in this widget. 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 finished …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag cloud displaying tags

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress post tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget set for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories

(Tag cloud displaying categories)

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

Configure Your Archives Section

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is a common WordPress widget.

As you keep publishing new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronological ladder and become less visible to readers. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows your readers to access earlier WordPress posts …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really very little to configure. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and display post counts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows a published Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget on sidebar navigation area

(Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful ways to use 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:

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets displaying on your site’s sidebar that aren’t listed under the 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 your sidebar.

For example, the site below shows some widgets in the blog sidebar …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

If you look in the Widgets area, however, no widgets have actually been added to the active widget areas …

How To Override Default Widgets

This is because the theme above is obviously using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will your new widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you want nothing to appear in your sidebar navigation section, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar area.

Add a blank text widget …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you in an earlier example, WordPress lets you completely reorder how content displays in widgetized areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve visitor 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 rearranged the sidebar by switching the search and testimonial sections. This is easily done by dragging and dropping the widget elements into different positions inside the sidebar widget area.

Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve user 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.

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Switch 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 links respectively …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, plus drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in your selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress 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 the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display the selected widget with options for modifying the widget’s 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 …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Turn off accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own Custom 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 area when you install a new plugin on your website.

If you want to create a sidebar widgets, then here is an easy way:

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you want to show on the sidebar…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you plan to use fit the maximum width of the sidebar navigation area. Also, keep in mind that there’s no a lot of room to put content on your sidebar navigation section, so keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are after is to copy the content HTML so we can paste it into the sidebar widget.

After writing your content, click on the Text tab …

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget is now added to your sidebar navigation menu…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure sidebar widgets.

How To Add WordPress Widgets To The Website

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