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 WidgetsIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring various commonly-used widgets.

In this final installment, we explain how to complete the step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more commonly-used WordPress widgets.

Important 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:

Adding A Newsfeed Section To Your WordPress Sidebar

Now, let’s add An RSS widget to your sidebar.

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

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 a widget title, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of items you want to show on your sidebar navigation menu from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box to display the item content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to show the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box to show the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the combination that best suits your preferences.

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar)

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

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud To Your Sidebar Section

Let’s now add a widget to your sidebar that will display a list of tags.

Important Info

Tags displayed in your Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is not much 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 finished …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

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

Tag cloud set to display WordPress post tags

(Tag cloud set to display tags)

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

Tag cloud displaying post categories

(Tag cloud set to display categories)

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

How To Configure Your Archives Widget

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

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

The Archives Widget allows your readers to view earlier posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is very little to configure. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts published each month . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget on sidebar

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar area)

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

How To Override Default Widgets

If you see widgets displaying on your site’s sidebar that aren’t showing up under the active sidebar inside the Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because some themes will display their own default set of widgets unless you add widgets to your sidebar navigation section.

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

The theme above is using default widgets.

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

Note: If you want no widgets to appear in the sidebar navigation menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar navigation area.

Just add a blank text widget …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, with WordPress you can easily reorder how information is displayed in widgetized areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop …

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve visitor experience

(Rearrange sidebar layout using widgets to improve visitor experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily reorganized the sidebar by switching 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.

You can reorganize your sidebar layout with widgets to improve 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 Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via your Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of dragging and dropping.

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

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

Select 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

(Enable 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

If you 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 the selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display your selected widget with options for changing its 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 area …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

Create Your Own Custom 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 section 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 type in the content that you would like to display in the sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we need is the code of the content to be pasted into the custom widget.

After writing your content, click on the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

How To 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 new widget will be added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To The Website

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