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 And Configure WordPress Widgets In The SidebarIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

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

In this final installment, you are going to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more commonly-used WordPress 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:

Adding An RSS Widget To The WordPress Sidebar

Let’s add An RSS widget to the sidebar section.

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured with the above settings …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation area)

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured using some of the other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Widget To Your Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar that displays clickable tags.

Useful Info

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags section …

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

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

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar section …

Tag Cloud widget set to display post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress tags)

The example below shows the Tag Cloud widget configured for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Widget

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

As you continue adding new content to WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronological list and become less visible to users. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets readers access dated posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is really very little to set up here. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your Archives widget in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget on sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure most of the frequently-used sidebar widgets, let’s explore some other useful aspects of using WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional things to know about using 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 displaying on your site’s sidebar menu that aren’t listed under the active sidebar in your Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because with some themes, unless you add widgets to your sidebar menu, the theme will display its own default set of widgets.

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

Overriding Default Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets section, however, you may find that no widgets have actually been added to the active widget areas …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This is because the above theme may be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

Note: If you don’t want anything to display in the sidebar area, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained earlier, with WordPress you can easily and quickly rearrange how information displays in widgetized areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop …

Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve your site's visitor experience

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

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have easily reorganized the sidebar by switching the search and testimonial sections. This is easily done by dragging and dropping the widgets 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 use drag-and-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 Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via your Screen Options, allows you to use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag-and-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

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, with drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in your widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Click Save Widget to update your settings and go back to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to remove 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 and drop function to your Widgets …

Disable accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets – A Simple Cheat

Most widgets 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 website.

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you want to display in your sidebar navigation area…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

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

After composing your content, click on the Text tab …

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select everything inside your editor window and copy it to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Screen.

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget is now added to the sidebar menu…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In The Blog

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