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 WebsiteIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part Three, we began configuring a number of sidebar widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we explain how to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by learning how to configure a few more useful WordPress 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 Section To The WordPress Sidebar

Let’s add a 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 …

RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the RSS feed URL into this field.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add an optional widget title, enter it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select how many items you want to show in the sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the feed item 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 settings to find the combination that suits your preferences best.

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

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar navigation area)

The example below shows an 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

Now, let’s add a widget to your sidebar section that displays a list of tags.

Important

Tags displayed in the widget are managed in the Tags panel …

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s 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 finished …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display WordPress post tags

(Tag cloud set to display post tags)

The screenshot below shows a published Tag Cloud widget set to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories)

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

How To Configure The WordPress Archives Widget

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

As you continue adding new posts to 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 allows blog readers to view WordPress posts that you may have published a while back …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

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

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

WordPress Archives widget added to sidebar section

(Archives Widget on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure most of the commonly-used widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other 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:

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, the site below shows widgets in the sidebar …

Override Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

This theme is using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained previously, WordPress lets you completely reorder how content is displayed in widgetized areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

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

(Rearranging sidebar elements with 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 layout in the site’s sidebar area 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.

Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, for some reason, 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), you can still use widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your administration area and go to Appearance > Widgets

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Enable 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 …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Click Save Widget to update your settings and return to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to delete the widget from the Active Widgets section …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Creating 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 area by plugins that you install on your website.

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

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use fit the maximum width of your sidebar. Also, keep in mind that there’s no 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 are really after is the content to paste into the custom sidebar widget.

After writing your content, click on the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Area.

Insert a new Text widget into your sidebar, paste the content from your clipboard into the content field and click Save

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to the sidebar navigation section…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In The Blog

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