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 BlogIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

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

In this final section, we explain how to complete the step-by-step 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:

Adding An RSS Widget

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

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

WordPress 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 title to the widget, type it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select how many RSS feed items you want to show on your sidebar navigation area from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to display the feed item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box to show the item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar navigation area)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS widget configured using additional options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Section

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to display a tag list on the sidebar.

Important Info

Tags displayed in the Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags section …

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really very little to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when done …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

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

Tag cloud displaying tags

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress post tags)

The screenshot below shows a published Tag Cloud widget set up to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories)

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

Configuring The Archives Widget In Your Sidebar

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

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

The Archives Widget allows your blog readers to view older content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really not much to configure. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget set to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

Archives widget on sidebar navigation section

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful 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 Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This is because the theme above is obviously using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will your newly-added widgets will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you in an earlier example, with WordPress you can completely reorder how information is displayed in areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help to improve visitor experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have rearranged 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.

Rearranging sidebar layout with widgets can help improve visitor experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you cannot move widgets using drag-and-drop (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.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress admin area and navigate to the Widgets section …

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Switch 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 …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a location to add the widget, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for changing 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 …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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)

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 section when you install new plugins on your site.

If you want to create a custom sidebar widget, then here is an easy way:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you would like to display in your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we really need is to copy the code of the content to paste into the sidebar widget.

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Screen.

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget will be added to your sidebar…

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.

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your Sidebar Area

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