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 And Configuring WordPress Widgets In The SidebarIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, you learned how to configure a text widget.

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

In this final installment, we show you how to complete this step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more frequently-used sidebar 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 Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

Let’s now add a widget to your sidebar that displays RSS feeds.

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

RSS Widget

(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 title to the feed, type it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of RSS feed items to show on your sidebar navigation menu from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to show the item 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 would like to display the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the combination that best works for you.

The screenshot below shows the RSS widget configured with the above settings …

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget displayed on sidebar section)

The example below shows the RSS widget configured with other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Section To The Sidebar Navigation Menu

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

Info

Tags appearing in your widget can be found in the Tags area …

Tags area

(Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is not much to set up in this widget. 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 …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display post tags

(Tag cloud set to display post tags)

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

Tag cloud displaying categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post 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 commonly-used widget.

As you continue adding new content 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 lets readers access less visible posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is really very little to configure in this widget. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows the Archives widget set up for showing posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget on sidebar navigation area

(Archives Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful 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:

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, the site below shows a couple of widgets in the sidebar area …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

The theme above is obviously using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will your newly-added widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you want nothing to appear in the sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Add a blank text widget …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

And default widgets will not display in your sidebar/footer section …

How To Override Default Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, WordPress lets you quickly reorganize how content 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 technology …

Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can improve your site's user experience

(Rearrange sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience)

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

Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, however, 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), then you can still work with widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Switch On accessibility mode

(Switch 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 links respectively …

Enable 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 the location to add the widget, with drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in the selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “4”, etc.) …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Switch off 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 area when you install new plugins on your website.

If you want to create your own sidebar widgets, then here is an easy way:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you would like to display on the sidebar navigation area…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

After composing your content, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Area.

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to your sidebar section…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add WordPress Widgets To Your Sidebar Navigation Area

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