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 Use Widgets In WordPressIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various frequently-used blog widgets.

In this final installment, we are going to conclude this tutorial by configuring a few more useful WordPress 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 A Newsfeed Section

Now, let’s add a widget to the sidebar that will display RSS feeds.

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

WordPress 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 would like to add a widget title, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of RSS feed items to display on the sidebar section 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: Check this box if you want to display the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to display the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options 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

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar menu)

The example below shows an RSS widget configured using other options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud To Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Menu

Let’s now add a widget to your sidebar area that will display tags.

Important Info

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

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really not much to set up here. 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 your sidebar section …

Tag Cloud widget set to display post tags

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress post tags)

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

Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories

(Tag cloud displaying post categories)

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

How To Configure Your Archives Widget

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

As you continue adding new content to WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronological list and become less visible to blog visitors. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets your readers view your previously published posts …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really not much to set up here. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

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

WordPress Archives widget on sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget added to blog sidebar)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional things to know about 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 Widgets

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

For example, this site displays widgets in the blog sidebar …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This is because the above theme is probably using default widgets.

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

Note: If you want nothing 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.

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you previously, with WordPress you can completely reorganize how content is displayed in areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop …

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

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve 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 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.

Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can help to improve your site’s user experience.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via your Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of dragging and dropping.

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

Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Enable 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 link respectively …

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 displays the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a widget location, and drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen displays your selected widget with options for modifying its settings.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to restore the drag & drop functionality to your Widgets …

Disable accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets – A Simple 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 when you install a new plugin on your website.

Here is an easy way to create your own sidebar widgets:

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Make sure 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 put content on your sidebar menu, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are looking for is the content to paste into a widget.

After composing your content, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Now, 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

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget will be added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Configuring Widgets On The Sidebar

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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