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 WordPress Widgets To The SiteIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

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

In this final installment, you are going to complete the tutorial by configuring a few more commonly-used 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 Section To Your Sidebar Section

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar that will display RSS feeds.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the ideal combination for you.

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget added to sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS widget configured with 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 Section To Your Sidebar Section

Now, let’s add a widget to display clickable tags on your sidebar.

Important

Tags displayed in the Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags area …

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is very little to configure. You can add a title, 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 set to display WordPress tags

(Tag cloud displaying tags)

The example below shows an Tag Cloud widget set up for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying WordPress post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories)

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

Configure The Archives Section

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

As you continue adding new posts to 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 allows your visitors to access less visible content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really not much to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure most of the commonly-used widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other areas of WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful features worth knowing about 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:

Overriding Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

This theme is probably using default widgets.

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

Note: If you want no widgets to display in the sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained in an earlier example, with WordPress you can quickly reorganize how content is displayed in widgetized areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

Rearranging sidebar layout with widgets can help to improve user experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve visitor experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have easily change the order of elements in the site’s sidebar by switching around the search and testimonial sections. This is easily done by dragging and dropping the widgets into different positions inside the sidebar widget area.

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can improve user experience.

If, however, 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), you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via Screen Options, allows you to use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag-and-drop.

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

Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable 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 Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

How To Enable 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 editing the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to update your settings and return to the Active Widgets section, or click the Delete button to remove the widget from the Active Widgets section …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Most of the widgets that you will use 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 widgets, then here is a simple and easy way:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you would like to show on the sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we are looking for is to copy the code of the content to paste into your sidebar widget.

To get the content code, click on the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

Insert a new Text widget into your sidebar, paste the content from your clipboard into the content field and click Save

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget is now added to the sidebar navigation section…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure various WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In The Sidebar Navigation Menu

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