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 Your BlogIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

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

In this final installment, we are going to complete the tutorial by configuring a few more frequently-used sidebar widgets.

Important

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 An RSS Widget To The WordPress Sidebar

Now, let’s add An RSS widget to display news items on the sidebar.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the URL of your RSS feed here.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add a title to your feed, type it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of RSS feed items to display on your sidebar navigation area from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to show the feed item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you want to show the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box if you want to display the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured using the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows the RSS widget configured using additional options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Section

Now, let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to the sidebar.

Important Info

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags section …

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(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 finished …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

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

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post tags)

The screenshot below shows a published Tag Cloud widget configured to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring Your Archives Section In The Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is a frequently-used WordPress widget.

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

The Archives Widget allows readers to access dated posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s not much to set up. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar in a dropdown menu, and display post counts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget set for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to sidebar section

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar navigation section)

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets showing up on your site’s sidebar menu that aren’t listed under the active sidebar inside 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, the site below shows a couple of widgets in the sidebar …

How To Override Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

This theme may be using default widgets.

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

Note: If you don’t want anything to display in your sidebar area, 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 …

Override Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you in an earlier example, WordPress lets you easily and quickly reorganize how information displays in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop …

Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can help to improve visitor experience

(Rearrange sidebar layout with widgets to improve user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have rearranged the 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 help to improve your site’s user experience.

If, however, you find that you cannot move widgets around using drag & 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.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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 admin and go to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a location to add the widget, and drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen displays the selected widget with options for editing its settings.

Click Save Widget to return to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to delete the widget from the Active Widgets area …

How To 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)

Creating 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 new plugins on your website.

If you want to create a custom sidebar widgets, then here is an easy way:

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you would like to show on the sidebar navigation section…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Make sure that any images you use are resized to fit the maximum width of your sidebar navigation section. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have 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 need is to copy the code of the content to be pasted into a sidebar widget.

After writing your content, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To 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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to your sidebar navigation area…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In The Blog

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