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 And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your SiteIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various widgets in WordPress.

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

Useful Information

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 WordPress Sidebar Area

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar that displays RSS feeds.

To add the widget, find 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 would like to add a title to your feed, enter it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select how many RSS feed items you would like to display in the sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to display the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box to show the RSS feed item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different widget settings to find the ideal combination for your website.

The screenshot below shows an RSS widget configured using the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget added to blog sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured using other options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Section To Your Blog Sidebar

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to display a list of tags on the sidebar navigation area.

Useful Information

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

Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to configure in this widget. 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 …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar navigation section …

Tag cloud displaying tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

The example below shows a published Tag Cloud widget set up to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories)

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

How To 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 publishing new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronological ladder and become less visible to site users. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows your readers to access less visible content …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is very little to configure. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when finished …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget on sidebar area

(WordPress Archives Widget added to blog sidebar)

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

WordPress 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:

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, this site displays widgets in the sidebar …

Overriding Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

The theme above is probably using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will your new widgets will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can help improve your site's user experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve visitor experience)

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

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

If, for some reason, you find that you cannot move widgets around using drag & drop (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your dashboard and navigate to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Switch 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 the widget’s settings, selecting a location to add the widget, with dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in the selected area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display your selected widget with options for editing 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 …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Switch off 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 section when you install a new plugin on your website.

Here is a simple way to create your own sidebar widgets:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you want to show on the sidebar navigation menu…

Creating 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 navigation section, so try and keep your information concise.

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

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Next, 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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar Navigation Section

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