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 The WordPress Blog Sidebar Navigation MenuIn 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 a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring a number of sidebar widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we are going to conclude the tutorial by configuring a few more frequently-used WordPress 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 An RSS Widget To The WordPress Sidebar

Let’s now add An RSS widget to display news items on your sidebar.

To add the widget, select an RSS widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your sidebar 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 would like to add an optional widget title, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of items you would like to display on 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 would like to show the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box if you would like to show the RSS feed item date.

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget added to blog sidebar)

The example below shows an RSS widget configured with 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

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar menu that will display a tag cloud.

Important

Tags displayed in your widget are listed in the Tags screen …

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

To add the widget, select a Tag Cloud widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your 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 done …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display post tags

(Tag cloud displaying post tags)

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

Tag cloud set to display categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring The Archives Section

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is a frequently-used WordPress widget.

As you continue adding new posts to WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows site visitors to view dated content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really not much to set up in this widget. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows the Archives widget configured to display posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

Useful Widget 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 appearing on your site’s sidebar that aren’t showing up under your active sidebar inside your Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because with some themes, until you add widgets to the sidebar navigation menu, the theme will display its own default set of widgets.

For example, this site displays widgets in the sidebar …

Override Default Widgets

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

Override Default Widgets

This theme is 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 want nothing to show up in your sidebar, 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 to a widget area …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, WordPress lets you quickly reorganize how information is displayed in widgetized areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site's visitor experience

(Reorganize sidebar elements with widgets to improve user experience)

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

You can reorganize your sidebar layout with widgets to improve user experience.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via the 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 navigate to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress 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 …

Enable accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

Once the feature 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the location to add the widget, with dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “4”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for editing the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to update your settings and go back to the Active Widgets section, or click the Delete button to remove the widget from the Active Widgets section …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Most widgets 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.

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

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

To get the content code, click on the Text tab …

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own 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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget will be added to your sidebar navigation section…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Use Widgets

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