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 …

How To Add Widgets To Your WordPress Blog Sidebar AreaIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring various commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we are going to conclude this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more useful widgets.

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:

Add A Newsfeed To Your Sidebar Navigation Area

Now, let’s add a widget to your sidebar navigation area that displays news updates from RSS feeds.

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

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation menu)

The example below shows the RSS Feed widget configured using some of the other options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

To learn more about using RSS feeds in WordPress, see this tutorial:

Adding A Tag Cloud

Let’s now add a widget to your sidebar section that will display clickable tags.

Important

Tags displayed in your widget are managed in the Tags section …

WordPress Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is very little to set up in this widget. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when done …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget set to display tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

The example below shows the Tag Cloud widget configured to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Section In Your Sidebar

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

As you continue adding new content 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 site readers to access WordPress posts that you may have published months ago …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

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

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget set up to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to sidebar navigation area

(Archives Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure your widgets, let’s explore some other aspects of WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional 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:

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

If you look in the Widgets section, however, you will find that no widgets have been added to any of the available widget areas …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

This theme is using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will your newly-added widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you want nothing to appear in the sidebar navigation area, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have explained in an earlier example, WordPress lets you quickly and easily reorganize how content displays in widgetized areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can help improve visitor experience

(Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help to improve user experience)

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

You can rearrange your sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, for some reason, 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), then you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via the Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of dragging and dropping.

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress admin and navigate to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Turn on accessibility mode

(Enable 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a widget location, and dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in the selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click Save Widget to add the widget to the Active Widgets section, or Cancel to return to your previous screen …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen will display the selected widget with options for modifying the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to return to the Active Widgets screen, 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 functionality to your Widgets …

Disable accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets – An Easy Cheat

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 section when you install new plugins on your site.

Here is a simple way to create your own custom sidebar widget:

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you want to display in your sidebar navigation section…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Screen.

Add a new Text widget to 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 menu…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Site

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)