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 On The Blog Sidebar SectionIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial series, 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 a number of frequently-used widgets.

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

Useful 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

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar that will display news updates from RSS feeds.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the URL of your RSS feed here.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add an optional title to your widget, type it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many feed items you would like to display on your sidebar navigation area from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you would like to show the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you want to show the RSS feed item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured using additional 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 now add A Tag Cloud widget to the sidebar area.

Important Info

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

WordPress Tags screen

(Tags area)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little 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

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display tags

(Tag cloud set to display post tags)

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

Tag cloud displaying post categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress categories)

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

Configure The Archives Section In The Sidebar Navigation Menu

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

As you keep publishing new posts in 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 previously published posts …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really very little to configure in this widget. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts published each month . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows a published Archives widget set up for showing posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

Archives widget added to blog sidebar

(Archives Widget on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure a number of default sidebar widgets, let’s explore some other aspects of WordPress widgets.

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:

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

How To Override Default Widgets

If you look in the Widgets section, however, you will see that no widgets have actually been added to the active widget areas …

How To Override Default Widgets

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

As soon as 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 no widgets to appear in your sidebar navigation menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you in an earlier example, with WordPress you can easily and quickly rearrange how information is displayed in areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site's visitor experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have easily change the layout in 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.

Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help improve your site’s user experience.

If, however, you find that you cannot move widgets using drag & 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.

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress 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 WordPress admin and go to the Widgets section …

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Turn on 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 Accessibility Mode For Widgets

If you click on a Widget’s Add link in the Available Widgets section …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “4”, etc.) …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display the selected widget with options for changing its 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 Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Disable accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Creating 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 section by plugins that you install 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 in the sidebar…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you plan to use 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 sidebar navigation area, so keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are after is to copy the code of the content so we can paste it into the custom widget.

Once you have composed your content in the WordPress post editor, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

Create 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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to the sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure several frequently-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your Website

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