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 SiteIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part Three, we began configuring a number of commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we show you how to complete the tutorial by configuring a few more commonly-used 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:

Add A Newsfeed Section To Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Area

Let’s now add An RSS widget to display news items on your sidebar navigation area.

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 a title to the widget, type it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Select how many feed items to show on the sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you would like to show the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to display the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box if you would like to display 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 example below shows the RSS widget configured as per the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

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

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Widget To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to your sidebar navigation section.

Useful Info

Tags displayed in your widget can be found in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags area

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really very little to set up here. 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 WordPress tags

(Tag cloud displaying tags)

The example below shows the Tag Cloud widget configured for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Widget In The Blog Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is another commonly-used WordPress widget.

As you publish new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets blog readers access dated posts …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

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

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget displayed on sidebar area

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional ways to use 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 Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets appearing on your site’s sidebar that aren’t listed under your active sidebar inside your 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 some widgets in the sidebar section …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This theme could be using default widgets.

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

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you previously, WordPress lets you easily and quickly reorder how content displays in areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

Rearrange sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site's user experience

(Reorganize sidebar elements using widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily redesigned the sidebar section by switching around 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 reorganize your sidebar elements with widgets to improve visitor experience.

If, however, you find that you are unable to use drag & drop to move widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), then you can still work with widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress 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 administration area 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 on Enable accessibility mode

Switch On accessibility mode

(Turn 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 links respectively …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on a Widget’s Add link in the Available Widgets section …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a widget location, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

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)

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.

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

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use are resized to fit the maximum width of your sidebar section. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to put content on your sidebar navigation section, so keep your information concise.

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

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select everything in your editor window and copy it to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

Add a new Text widget to 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 the sidebar…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your Website

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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