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 WordPress Widgets To The BlogIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure text widgets.

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

In this final section, you are going to conclude this step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more frequently-used 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 A Newsfeed

Let’s 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 active area …

RSS Widget

(WordPress 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 title to the feed, type it here.
  3. Items to display: Select how many feed items you want to display on the sidebar from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box if you would like to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you would like to display the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you want to show the feed item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different widget settings to find the combination that suits your needs best.

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation menu)

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud To The WordPress Sidebar Area

Now, let’s add a widget to the sidebar menu that displays a tag cloud.

Info

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

WordPress Tags area

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is not much to set up here. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when finished …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar area …

Tag Cloud widget displaying post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying tags)

The example below shows an Tag Cloud widget configured to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying post categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories)

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

Configuring The Archives Widget

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

As you continue publishing new posts in 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 visitors to view older published WordPress posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s not much to configure in this widget. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when finished …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget configured to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar section

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar navigation section)

Now that you know how to configure widgets in WordPress, let’s explore some other useful ways to use WordPress widgets.

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional things to know about using 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 WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, the site below shows a couple of widgets in the sidebar area …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

The above theme is probably using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active 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 the sidebar area, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have explained previously, WordPress lets you quickly and easily reorganize how content is displayed in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can improve user experience

(Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can help to improve your site’s visitor experience)

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

Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can improve your site’s visitor experience.

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

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 link to 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 Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, and dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “4”, 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 …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Turn off accessibility mode)

Create Your Own 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 by plugins that you install on your website.

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

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use fit the maximum width of your sidebar. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to add content on the blog sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we really want is to copy the code of the content so we can paste it into the custom widget.

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

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 Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to your sidebar area…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add And Configure Widgets In WordPress

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)