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

In Part 3, we began configuring various sidebar widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we are going to conclude this 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 A Newsfeed Section To Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Menu

Let’s add a 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 …

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Enter the URL of your RSS feed here.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add a title to your feed, enter it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of RSS feed items you want to show in your sidebar section from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to display the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to display the item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured using the settings shown above …

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget added to sidebar)

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

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

Info

Tags appearing in the widget can be found in the Tags panel …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is 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

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post tags)

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

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress categories

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

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

Configuring The Archives Widget

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is a common WordPress widget.

As you publish new posts in 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 lets your readers access your previously published posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is very little to configure. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget configured to show posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar

(Archives Widget added to sidebar navigation area)

Now that you know how to configure your widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other useful aspects of using WordPress widgets.

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional ways to use WordPress 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 Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets displaying on your site’s sidebar that aren’t showing up in your active sidebar in 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, this site displays widgets in the sidebar section …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

And default widgets will not appear in the sidebar/footer section …

How To Override Default Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have explained previously, with WordPress you can quickly and easily reorganize how information is displayed in widgetized areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve user experience

(Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily reorganized the sidebar area by switching around 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 rearrange your sidebar elements using widgets to improve user experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you cannot move widgets around 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.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

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

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Switch On accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

Once accessibility mode 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 …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting the location to add the widget, and dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen displays your selected widget with options for changing its settings.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own Custom 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 a new plugin on your website.

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you would like to add to your sidebar navigation menu…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are looking for is to copy the content HTML so we can paste it into a sidebar widget.

After creating your content, click on the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own 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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget will be added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your Site

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