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 Your WordPress Sidebar MenuIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring various widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we explain how to complete the tutorial 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:

Add A Newsfeed Section To Your Sidebar

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

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

RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured as per the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget displayed on sidebar menu)

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud To The Sidebar

Let’s now add A Tag Cloud widget to your sidebar navigation menu.

Important

Tags appearing in your Tag Cloud widget can be found in the Tags panel …

Tags area

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to set up. 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 …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags)

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

Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring The WordPress Archives Section In The Blog Sidebar

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

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

The Archives Widget lets visitors view older content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is really not much to set up here. You can add a 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 a published Archives widget set up to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget displayed on sidebar area

(WordPress Archives Widget displayed on sidebar navigation section)

Now that you know how to configure various widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other areas of WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful features of 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 Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets displaying on your blog sidebar that aren’t listed under your active sidebar in the Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because with some themes, until you add widgets to the sidebar navigation area, the theme will display its own default set of widgets.

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar 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 placeholder widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you previously, with WordPress you can easily and quickly reorder how content is displayed 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 technology …

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

(Rearranging sidebar layout with widgets can improve user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily rearranged the layout in the site’s sidebar section by switching around 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 layout with widgets can help improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, however, you find that you cannot move widgets using drag-and-drop (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still work with widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, with dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display your selected widget with options for modifying its settings.

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

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 area by plugins that you install on your site.

Here is an easy way to create your own sidebar widgets:

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Make sure that any images you plan to use fit the maximum width of your sidebar. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to add content on your sidebar navigation area, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we are really after is to copy the code of the content to be pasted into a widget.

Once you have written your content in the WordPress post editor, click on the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Now, 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 new widget will be added to the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)