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.

Adding And Configuring Widgets On The Sidebar Navigation MenuAs we explain in this article, one of the many benefits of using the WordPress web publishing application for building, managing and growing a website or blog is that WordPress makes it very easy to add content, enhance your website, and reorganize the layout of your website without web coding skills and knowledge required.

WordPress lets you easily insert, remove, and control content in your site’s sidebar navigation section (and header and footer sections, depending on what theme you have installed) using widgets.

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

  • page lists
  • blog post categories
  • blog post archive
  • custom menus
  • links to resources
  • most popular posts
  • comments
  • text ads
  • user testimonials
  • survey questions & results
  • RSS feed content
  • opt-in subscription form
  • videos
  • social media buttons
  • add widgets from external sites (e.g. affiliate programs)
  • administrative forms (e.g. login, register, etc.)

WP widgets make managing and using WordPress easy!

(Widgets help make managing and using WordPress easier)

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

In this tutorial series we show you how to use and configure a number of commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

How To Use Widgets

Widgets – The Basics

Before we show you how to configure widgets, it helps to first go over some of the basics about using widgets:

Most WordPress Themes Support Widgetized Areas

Most WordPress themes support widgets and provide areas in your theme’s layout where you can use widgets, such as the sidebar menu, header area, and footer sections. Depending on what theme you are using, widgets can sometimes also display in the content area …

(Many WordPress themes offer users a number of widgetized areas)

(Many themes provide multiple widget-ready areas)

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

Widget Areas

(Widget Areas)

Your Widgets Screen

The Widgets section displays a list of all the widgets you have available.

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

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Activate or deactivate widgets with drag & drop ease)

Available widgets can be made Active or Inactive by dragging-and-dropping items to different areas of the panel.

Widgets dragged from the Available Widgets section to widget areas like your sidebar, footer, etc. become immediately active on your site.

Your Widgets screen also includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove any widgets that you no longer want actively displayed on your website. Inactive widgets retain their settings.

Reorganize WordPress Widgets Using Drag & Drop

You can easily add new functionality to your site, or activate, deactivate, rearrange and delete things using widgets by dragging and dropping items inside your Widgets section …

Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag and drop

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

You can also easily rearrange the order of your site’s widget-enabled areas using drag & drop.

For example, in the image below, the widgets have already been configured to display the following to visitors:

  1. An opt-in form,
  2. A click for support button, and
  3. ’Click to call’ buttons from a widgetized plugin (i.e. a WordPress plugin that adds an accompanying widget to your site) …

Widgets control how certain features on your site appear

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

If we take a look inside the example site’s Widget area, you will see that these features correspond to the order of widgets inside the active widget screen …

Rearrange your site's widgets using drag-and-drop

Let’s now reorganize the above widgets in the Main Sidebar Widget Area by dragging & dropping some of the items around …

Drag and drop to rearrange widgets in your widget area

(Drag-and-drop to rearrange widgets in the widget area)

The widget features have now been reordered in the sidebar …

Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag & drop

This immediately changes the order of items in your site’s sidebar.

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help improve your site’s visitor experience.

Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ function (3) is now first the sidebar area, and the ‘contact us’ banner (2) is found above the newsletter sign-up form (1) …

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help to improve visitor experience

(Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve visitor experience)

Deleting Widgets From Your WordPress Blog Sidebar Navigation Menu

Removing widgets from your sidebar navigation menu is very easy.

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

WordPress Search widget

(WordPress Search widget)

To remove an active widget, you can either open up the widget settings and click the Delete link …

How to delete your WordPress widget

(How to delete widgets)

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

Remove widgets

(Remove your WP widgets)

Repeat this process for any other widgets you want to remove from your sidebar. You can always reinstate widgets by dragging them back into the active widgets area.

Widget Settings

Many widgets offer additional options that allow you to further configure them. This includes hiding information from users (but allowing access to registered users), displaying additional forms, fields, or data, specifying sizes of sidebar images, videos, etc.

Click on the little triangle in the corner of a widget to toggle between expanding and collapsing the item …

Toggle to expand/collapse widget settings

(Toggle to expand/collapse widget settings)

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

Widget settings

(Widget settings)


Some widgets may require or offer no customization, or they may only allow you to add something like an optional title …

Some widgets offer little to no configurable options

(Some widgets give you little to no configuration options)

Widget Previews

Depending on the theme you are using, you can also preview any changes live without actually making changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you are happy with your customizations before committing anything to your site.

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 it (and avoid making mistakes), or manage widgets on the fly using the Widget editor screen.

Edit widgets live in the Customize feature

(Edit widgets in the Customize feature)

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

Customize your site quickly

(Toolbar Customize Link)

This will bring you to the Customizer area in the back-end.

You can do lots of edits, modifications and adjustments to the widgets in preview mode (like adding, removing and moving widgets around), and everything is done in real time. If you are happy with the results, click the “Save and Publish” button and the changes will be instantly applied and made visible on your site to visitors.

Widget management - configure widgets on the fly!

(Widget management – configure widgets on the fly!)

After saving changes, your site will automatically update the widget settings and display the latest configuration to your site visitors.

Useful Tip

Because the WordPress theme you use tend to affect how elements display on your site, we recommend that you install your theme first before configuring widgets.

Also, remember to use the WordPress Customizer to preview all changes. This will save you from having to keep two browsers open while you go 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, it’s time to learn how to configure a number of commonly-used sidebar widgets in WordPress.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In The Site


This is the end of section one of this tutorial series on how to use Widgets.

Click on this link to read the rest of this tutorial:


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)