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 In Your WebsiteIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various frequently-used sidebar widgets.

In this final installment, we explain how to complete the step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more useful WordPress sidebar widgets.

Important 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

Let’s add a widget to the sidebar area that displays news items from An RSS feed.

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

RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

The screenshot below shows the RSS Feed widget configured as per the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

The example below shows a published RSS widget configured using other 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 add A Tag Cloud widget to display a list of tags on the sidebar section.

Important Info

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

Tags area

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really very little to configure. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when done …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget set to display tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget set to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring Your WordPress Archives Section In Your Sidebar Menu

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

As you continue adding new posts to WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronology ladder and become less visible to site readers. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets your visitors view WordPress posts that you may have published some time ago …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is really not much to set up in this widget. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set up for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar section

(Archives Widget added to sidebar area)

Now that you know how to configure most of the frequently-used WordPress widgets, let’s explore some other aspects of WordPress widgets.

Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful things to know about using 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:

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets showing up on your blog sidebar section that aren’t listed in your active sidebar in the 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 some widgets in the sidebar section …

Overriding Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

This is because the theme above may be using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with your newly-added widgets instead.

Note: If you want nothing to display in the sidebar, 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 …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, WordPress lets you easily rearrange how information is displayed in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop …

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

(Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve visitor experience)

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

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help to 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 administration area and navigate to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress 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

(Switch On accessibility mode)

Once the feature has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets and the Active Widgets sections, widgets will display an Add and Edit link respectively …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

If you 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 a widget location, with dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “4”, etc.) …

Enable 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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 delete the widget from the Active Widgets section …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to go back to using drag-and-drop …

Switch off accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Create 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 section by plugins that you install on your site.

Here is an easy way to create your own sidebar widget:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you want to display in the sidebar area…

Creating Your Own 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 add content on your blog sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are really after is to copy the content to paste into the sidebar widget.

To get the content code, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own 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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new 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 various frequently-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In WordPress

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"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)