How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets

Learn how to use and configure WordPress widgets on your sidebar. This tutorial explains the basic concepts of using Widgets to extend the functionality of your website and provides an overview of the Widgets area.

How To Use WordPress WidgetsAs we’ve explained in this post, one of the many benefits of using the WordPress web publishing tool for building, managing and growing a web site is that WordPress makes it very easy to add content, expand your website’s functionality, or reorganize your site’s layout without having any code editing skills.

WordPress lets you easily insert, remove, and reorganize content in your website’s sidebar area (and header and footer sections, depending on what theme you are using) using widgets.

Once you know how to use widgets, you can easily add things to your site like:

  • page lists
  • site categories
  • archive
  • menus
  • links to resources
  • posts that you want to promote
  • post comments
  • text ads
  • testimonials
  • surveys & polls
  • RSS feed content
  • newsletter registration form
  • images
  • Facebook feeds
  • add widgets from other sites (e.g. Facebook friends)
  • administrative forms (e.g. login, register, etc.)

WP widgets make managing and using WordPress easier!

(Widgets make managing and using WordPress easy)

To learn more about what WordPress widgets are, how widgets work and how using widgets can help you expand the functionality of your website, go here:

In this tutorial we are going to show you how to use and configure various frequently-used widgets in WordPress.

Using WordPress Widgets

What You Need To Know First

Before configuring and using widgets, it helps to first review some of the basics of how to use widgets:

Most WordPress Themes Support Widget-Ready Layouts

Many WordPress themes support widgets and provide built-in areas in the theme’s layout where you can use widgets, such as the sidebar navigation section, header area, and footer. Depending on what theme you are using, widgets can also be added below or above the content area …

(Many WordPress themes provide a number of widget-ready sections)

(Many themes provide a number of widget-ready areas)

These widgetized layouts correspond to a feature inside the Widget administration screen called “Widget Areas” …

Widget Areas

(Widget Areas)

The Widgets Panel

The Widgets section displays all the widgets that can be used on your site.

On the right-hand side of the screen, you can see your “active” widgets …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Widgets can be activated or deactivated with drag & drop ease)

Available widgets can be activated or deactivated by dragging & dropping items to different areas of the screen.

Widgets dragged from the Available Widgets section to widget areas like your sidebar, footer, etc. become active and available for use.

In addition, the Widgets area includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove widgets that you no longer want to use on your site. Inactive widgets do not lose their settings.

Reorganize Widgets Using Drag And Drop

You can easily insert, activate, deactivate, rearrange and delete things using widgets by dragging and dropping items in your Widgets section …

Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag & drop

(Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag-and-drop)

You can also easily reconfigure your theme’s layout with drag and drop ease.

For example, take a look at the image below. In this site, the widgets have already been configured to show the following:

  1. A newsletter subscription form,
  2. A click for support banner, and
  3. ’Click to call’ feature from a widgetized plugin (i.e. a plugin that adds an accompanying widget to your site) …

Widgets control how certain features display on your WordPress site

(Widgets control the order certain features appear on your site)

If you look inside this site’s Widget area, you will see that these features display on the site’s sidebar section in the same order as they have been arranged in the active widget section …

Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag-and-drop

If we reorganize these widgets in the Widget Area by dragging & dropping some of these items around …

Drag and drop widgets in your widget area to rearrange their order

(Drag & drop to rearrange widgets in your widget area)

The widgets have now been reorganized in your sidebar navigation menu …

Rearrange your site's widgets using drag & drop

This instantly changes the order of items in the sidebar.

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

Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ function (3) is now first the sidebar, and the support graphic banner (2) can now be found above the newsletter subscription form (1) …

Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can help improve visitor experience

(Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can improve user experience)

Deleting Widgets From Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

Deleting widgets from the sidebar is really easy.

For example, let’s remove the Search widget from your sidebar navigation area …

WordPress Search widget

(WordPress Search widget)

To delete a widget from an active Widget area, you can either expand the widget and click the Delete link …

Deleting your WordPress widgets

(How to delete your widgets)

Or just drag the widget out of the Active Widgets section and drop it into the Inactive Widgets area …

Removing your WP widgets

(How to remove WordPress widgets)

Repeat this process for all widgets you want to remove from your sidebar. You can always restore a widget by dragging it back into the active widgets area.

Widget Settings

Many widgets can be customized. This includes making certain types of information hidden to visitors but visible to registered users, displaying additional forms, fields, or information, specifying dimensions of sidebar images, videos, etc.

Clicking on the little triangle in the corner of a widget toggles between expanding and collapsing the item and displays the widget’s settings …

Toggling expands/collapse widget settings

(Toggling expands/collapse widget settings)

When the widget expands, you can change and save your settings, click Delete to delete your widget from the “Active Widgets” section, close the widget, or click on the triangle to collapse the widget settings …

Widget settings

(Widget settings)


Some widgets provide users with little to no configuration options, or they may only allow you to add something like an optional title …

Some widgets offer little to no customization

(Some widgets give you little to no customizing options)

Previewing Your Widgets

Depending on the theme you have installed, you’re also able to preview any changes live without making actual changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you are happy with what you see before making any permanent changes to your website or blog.

Widget management is a great feature of WordPress. You can work in preview mode inside the WordPress Theme Customizer screen (Appearance > Customize) and see how the widget content will appear prior to publishing changes (to avoid making errors), or manage widgets on the fly using the Widget editor area.

Edit widgets live in the Customize feature

(Edit widgets live in the Customize section)

If you need to make changes to the site while viewing the frontend, just click on the Customize link …

Toolbar Customize Link

(Customize link in the toolbar)

This brings you to the Customizer feature in the back-end.

You can do several edits to widgets in preview mode (like inserting, deleting and reorganizing your widgets), and it will all be done in real time. If you like what you’ve done, click the “Save and Publish” button and the changes will then be instantly updated and made visible on the site’s frontend.

Widget management - configure widgets on the fly!

(Widget management – work in preview mode)

After saving the changes, all changes made to widgets will be automatically updated.

Useful Tip

Since the theme you choose tend to affect how elements display on your site, we recommend installing the theme first before configuring widgets on your sidebar.

Also, remember to use the Customizer feature to preview your changes. This will save you from having to keep two browsers open while you work through this tutorial (one to work in and one to see your site the way your visitors will see it).

Now that you know the basics of using widgets, let’s configure a number of commonly-used WordPress widgets.

How To Use Widgets In WordPress


This is the end of part one of this tutorial series.

Click here to view the rest of this tutorial:


"I love the way your email series "Infinite Web Content Creation Training Series" is documented and presented. It is very absorbing and captivating. The links and tutorials are interesting and educational. This has motivated me to rewrite my content following the concepts I am learning from the email series." - Mani Raju,