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 …

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your SidebarIn Part One of this step-by-step 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 WordPress.

In this final installment, you are going to learn how to complete the step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more frequently-used 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:

Adding An RSS Widget To Your WordPress Sidebar

Now, let’s add a widget to the sidebar section that will display news updates from An RSS feed.

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 URL of your RSS feed into this section.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add a title to your widget, type it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of RSS feed items to display on the sidebar section from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box to display the RSS feed item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the combination that suits your needs best.

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar navigation section)

The example below shows a published 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

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar menu that displays a tag list.

Useful Info

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags panel …

WordPress Tags screen

(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

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to configure. You can add a title, 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 widget set to display post tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post tags)

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

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display categories)

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

How To Configure The WordPress Archives Widget In The Blog Sidebar

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is a common 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 your readers to view your previously published posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s 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 finished …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget on sidebar

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure widgets in WordPress, let’s explore some other useful ways to use WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional 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:

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This is because the theme above is using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will your new widgets will be used instead.

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

Add a blank text widget …

Override Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained previously, WordPress lets you completely rearrange how information is displayed in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop technology …

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

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve visitor experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have easily reorganized the sidebar menu 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.

You can reorganize your sidebar elements using widgets to improve user experience.

If, however, 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), then you can still work with 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 & drop.

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your dashboard and navigate to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Switch On accessibility mode

(Turn 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 …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a location to add the widget, and drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in the widget area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to go back to using drag and drop …

Disable accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

Creating 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 would like to display on the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Make sure that any images you use fit the maximum width of your 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 are really after is the content HTML to paste into your widget.

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to the sidebar…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your Blog

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