WordPress Widgets – A Practical Guide For Non-Techies

Widgets are one of the main basic buiding blocks of WordPress and one of its most powerful and versatile features.

WordPress Widgets – A Practical Guide For Non-Techies

WordPress Widgets - A Practical Guide For Non-Techies

Widgets are one of the main basic buiding blocks of WordPress and one of its most powerful and versatile features.

This section provides detailed step-by-step tutorials for non-techies that explain what widgets are and provide practical examples of using widgets to enhance your website, display different types of content, add new functionality to your header and footer sections, sidebar menus, and much more!

Click on one of the tutorials below to get started:

WordPress

WordPress Widgets Explained

This tutorial explains what WordPress widgets are, how widgets work, and how widgets can help you customize and extend the functionality of your website or blog ...
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How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets

Learn how to use and configure WordPress widgets on your sidebar. This tutorial explains the basic concepts of using Widgets to extend the functionality of your website and provides an overview of the Widgets area ...
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How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

Learn how to add, configure, and use text widgets on your WordPress sidebar ...
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{{How To Use|Using} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets|Widgets In WordPress}|How To {Add Widgets To|Add And Configure Widgets In} {{Your|The} {WordPress|WordPress Blog} {Sidebar|Sidebar {Menu|Area|Section}}|WordPress}|How To {Add WordPress Widgets To|Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In} {Your|The} {Sidebar|{Sidebar|Sidebar Navigation} {Menu|Area|Section}|Website|Blog|Site}|{{Adding WordPress Widgets To|Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In} {Your|The} {Sidebar|{Sidebar|Sidebar Navigation} {Menu|Area|Section}|Website|Blog|Site}}|{{Adding Widgets To|Configuring Widgets On|Adding And Configuring Widgets On} {Your|Your WordPress|The|The WordPress}|{{Adding|How To Add} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets} To|{Configuring|How To Configure} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets} On|{Adding And Configuring|How To Add And Configure} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets} On} {Your|Your Blog|The|The Blog|Your WordPress Blog|The WordPress Blog}} {{Sidebar|Sidebar Navigation} {Menu|Area|Section}|Sidebar}}

How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

Learn how to add and configure a number of useful widgets on your WordPress sidebar ...
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{{How To Use|Using} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets|Widgets In WordPress}|How To {Add Widgets To|Add And Configure Widgets In} {{Your|The} {WordPress|WordPress Blog} {Sidebar|Sidebar {Menu|Area|Section}}|WordPress}|How To {Add WordPress Widgets To|Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In} {Your|The} {Sidebar|{Sidebar|Sidebar Navigation} {Menu|Area|Section}|Website|Blog|Site}|{{Adding WordPress Widgets To|Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In} {Your|The} {Sidebar|{Sidebar|Sidebar Navigation} {Menu|Area|Section}|Website|Blog|Site}}|{{Adding Widgets To|Configuring Widgets On|Adding And Configuring Widgets On} {Your|Your WordPress|The|The WordPress}|{{Adding|How To Add} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets} To|{Configuring|How To Configure} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets} On|{Adding And Configuring|How To Add And Configure} {Widgets|WordPress Widgets} On} {Your|Your Blog|The|The Blog|Your WordPress Blog|The WordPress Blog}} {{Sidebar|Sidebar Navigation} {Menu|Area|Section}|Sidebar}}

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 ...
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"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie

***

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 And Configure Widgets In WordPressIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring a number of sidebar widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we are going to complete this tutorial series by configuring a few more frequently-used WordPress 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 An RSS Widget To Your Sidebar

Let’s now add An RSS widget to the sidebar menu.

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

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 want to add an optional widget title, type it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of feed items you want to show on the sidebar from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box if you would like to show the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to show the RSS feed item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

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

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar section)

The screenshot below shows the RSS widget configured with additional options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Widget

Now, let’s add a widget to display clickable tags on your sidebar.

Info

Tags appearing in your Tag Cloud widget can be found in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is very little to configure in this widget. You can add a title, 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 area …

Tag cloud set to display WordPress tags

(Tag cloud set to display post tags)

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

Tag cloud displaying categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display categories)

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

Configuring The Archives Widget In Your Sidebar

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

As you publish new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronological ladder and become less visible to users. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets readers access older published WordPress posts …

WordPress 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 in a dropdown menu, and display post counts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows a published Archives widget configured to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to blog sidebar

(Archives Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure widgets, let’s explore some other areas of 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:

How To Override Default Widgets

If you see widgets appearing on your site’s sidebar that aren’t showing up under 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 area.

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

Overriding Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

The theme above could be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with your selected widgets instead.

Note: If you want nothing to appear in the sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar navigation area.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you previously, with WordPress you can quickly reorganize how content displays 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 technology …

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

(Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience)

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

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

If, however, 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.

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance > Widgets

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Switch On accessibility mode

(Enable accessibility mode)

Once the feature 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 …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, and dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “4”, etc.) …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Switch off accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom 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 section when you install new plugins on your website.

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

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use fit the maximum width of the sidebar section. 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 need is to copy the code of the content to be pasted into your widget.

Once you have created your content in the WordPress editor, switch to the Text tab …

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

Creating Your Own Custom 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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new 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 various WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Add WordPress Widgets To The Sidebar

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How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

Learn how to add and configure a number of useful widgets on your WordPress sidebar.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In Your WordPress Blog Sidebar AreaIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In this section you will learn how to configure other WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Add A Categories Section

Now that you know how to configure a text widget containing a contact button, let’s configure a widget for displaying Categories on your sidebar area.

By default, the Categories widget displays on your sidebar navigation area. All you need to do, therefore, is place this widget wherever you want your post categories to display by clicking and dragging it on the sidebar widget area …

Categories Widget

(Categories widget)

Practical Tip

your post categories …

WordPress Post Categories Panel

(WordPress Categories)

Note: We plan to create a separate step-by-step tutorial on how to use WordPress post categories.

Configure the Categories settings for your widget as described below:

  • In Title: type something that visitors will understand, for example, “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you plan to use many categories (this significantly reduces the size of your widget content by displaying all categories inside a drop-down menu). Leave the box unchecked if you want a list of all categories to display on your sidebar. (2)
  • You can leave the default settings for the remaining options, or see the additional notes on configuring this widget below.
  • Click Save when finished …

WordPress Categories Widget settings

(Configuring a WordPress Categories widget)

Click Visit Site or reload the page to see how the Categories widget will look to visitors …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar

(Categories widget added to sidebar)

Useful Tip

Tips:

  • Change the default Uncategorized post category to something more meaningful.
  • If you use nested categories on your site, you may want to check the Show hierarchy box, otherwise leave this option as is.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category, tick the Show post counts check box …

Category widget options - Post Count Enabled vs Post Count Disabled

(Category widget options – Post Count Enabled vs Post Count Disabled)

Add Recent Posts To Your Blog Sidebar

The Recent Posts widget typically shows in the sidebar section by default. All you need to do is configure your widget.

Click on your Recent Posts widget title bar to configure its settings …

Recent Posts widget

(Recent Posts WordPress widget)

There is really very little to set up here. You can add a widget title, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you’re happy to use the default Number of posts to show setting, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise change the number of posts and click Save

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

Your most recent posts will display on the sidebar …

Recent Posts widget added to sidebar

(Recent Posts WordPress widget added to sidebar navigation section)

How to create and edit WordPress Posts is explained here: How To Create A New Post In WordPress

Displaying Your Site’s Pages

Next, let’s add a widget to your sidebar area to display page links.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

WordPress Pages Widget

(WordPress Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your active widget area …

Inserting a Pages widget into the sidebar navigation section

(Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into the sidebar)

The Pages widget allows you to configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to the widget (e.g. “Pages“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or by page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Hide pages on the sidebar (3) …

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(Pages Widget settings)

By default, pages will be listed by title in alphabetical order. If you want to display pages using one of the other options, then choose a different method from the Sort by: drop-down menu …

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sorting options)

To prevent pages from displaying on your widget, type or paste in their Page Ids separated by commas into the Exclude field of the widget …

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(Pages Widget settings – exclude pages)

A step-by-step tutorial is provided on how to find a page ID in WordPress here: How To Locate The Page Or Post ID In A WP Blog

Click the Save button when finished and then click Close at the bottom of the widget box to minimize the widget.

Links to your site’s main pages will now appear on the sidebar …

WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar)

Tip

Tip: You can add multiple Pages widgets to the sidebar navigation area. This is handy if you want to display different page groups on the sidebar navigation area (e.g. “Products”, “Legal Pages” etc.)

Add Links To The Sidebar

Now, we’ll add a widget to the WordPress sidebar section to display links to external resources.

Before adding a Links widget to the sidebar menu, we recommend setting up your Links feature inside your dashboard first …

WordPress Links screen

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: We plan to create separate step-by-step tutorials that show you how to set up and use Links.

To add the widget, find a Links widget in the Available Widgets section …

Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the widget to your sidebar area …

Make Links Widget active

(Making Links Widget active)

The Links widget offers a number of configurable options, including the ability to specify what information to show about your links and how many links you want to display on your sidebar …

Links Widget Settings

(WordPress Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to your sidebar as you want. As you will see in a moment, this lets you create and display specific lists of links on your site …

Add Multiple Links Widgets To Your Sidebar

(Add Multiple Links Widgets To Your Sidebar)

You can sort links by Link title, Link rating, Link ID, or display links in Random order …

Links widget: 'Sort by:' drop-down menu

(WordPress Links widget: ‘Sort by:’ drop-down menu)

You can also create and display a list of items for a specific category, by selecting a link category from the ‘Select Link Category’ drop-down menu …

Links widget: 'Select Link Category' drop-down menu

( WordPress Links widget: ‘Select Link Category’ drop-down menu)

When you have finished configuring your Links Widget, click the Save button to update your settings. Your links will display immediately on your sidebar area …

Links added to sidebar navigation menu

(External links added to sidebar)

As the above example shows, you can display specific external links to your site visitors (e.g. a list for a specific link category only), and add multiple lists of links to the WordPress sidebar.

How To Add Widgets To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

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This is the end of section 3 of this series of tutorials on using WordPress widgets.

To view Part 4, click here:

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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)

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