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 WordPress WidgetsIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring various frequently-used WordPress widgets.

In this final section, you will complete the step-by-step tutorial by learning how to configure a few more frequently-used widgets.

Useful 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:

Adding A Newsfeed Section

Let’s add An RSS widget to your 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: Enter the RSS feed URL into this field.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add an optional widget feed, type it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of feed items you would like to display on your sidebar section from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you would like to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you want to show the feed item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the combination that works best for you.

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured using other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud To The WordPress Sidebar Area

Let’s now add A Tag Cloud widget to display tags on the sidebar navigation area.

Important

Tags displayed in your Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really very little to configure. 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 navigation area …

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget configured for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories)

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

Configuring The WordPress Archives Section In Your Sidebar Navigation Menu

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

As you continue adding new content 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 lets your readers access WordPress posts that you may have published a while ago …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is not much to set up here. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and display post counts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget displayed on sidebar navigation area

(WordPress Archives Widget displayed on sidebar area)

Now that you know how to configure most of the frequently-used widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other useful ways to use WordPress widgets.

Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional features worth knowing 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 that aren’t listed in your active sidebar in 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 area …

Override Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This theme may be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will your newly-added widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you want no widgets to appear in the sidebar section, either use a theme page template without a widgets section 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 default widgets won’t display in your sidebar/footer section …

Override Default Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you in an earlier example, WordPress lets you completely reorder how information is displayed in areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

Rearranging sidebar layout with widgets can improve your site's visitor experience

(Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can improve your site’s visitor experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily redesigned the sidebar area by switching around the search and testimonial sections. This is easily done by simply dragging and dropping the widgets into different positions inside the sidebar widget area.

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

If, however, you find that you are unable to use the drag-and-drop function to move 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.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Enable accessibility mode

(Turn 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 …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, with drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Disable accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

Creating 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 section when you install new plugins on your website.

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

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you would like to display in 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 navigation area. Also, keep in mind that there’s no a lot of room to add content on your sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we really want is to copy the content to be pasted into the sidebar widget.

After composing your content, click on the Text tab …

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, 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 custom widget is now added to the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure the most commonly-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

Adding And Configuring Widgets On Your Sidebar

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