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 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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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 Widgets To The Blog SidebarIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring a number of commonly-used blog widgets.

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

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:

Add A Newsfeed To The Blog Sidebar

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar that displays RSS feeds.

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

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the URL of your RSS feed into this section.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add an optional title to the widget, type it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Select how many 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 show the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you would like to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to display the feed item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the ideal combination for you.

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar navigation area)

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Section

Let’s add a widget to display a tag list on the sidebar section.

Important

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

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to configure in this widget. 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

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget displaying post tags

(Tag cloud displaying post tags)

The screenshot below shows the Tag Cloud widget set for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying post categories

(Tag Cloud widget 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 Area

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is another frequently-used WordPress widget.

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

The Archives Widget allows readers to access WordPress posts that you may have published some months ago …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

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

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

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

WordPress Archives widget on sidebar section

(WordPress Archives Widget on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure widgets in WordPress, let’s explore some other aspects of WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful 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:

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

If you look in the Widgets area, however, no widgets have been added to the available widget areas …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

Note: If you don’t want anything to appear in the sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Add a blank text widget …

Overriding Default Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you previously, with WordPress you can easily reorder 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-&-drop technology …

Reorganize sidebar elements using widgets to improve visitor experience

(Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help to improve your site’s user experience)

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

You can rearrange your sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site’s user experience.

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Enable accessibility mode)

Once accessibility mode 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 Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Disable accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Most widgets 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 a simple way to create your own custom sidebar widgets:

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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you plan to use are resized to fit the maximum width of your sidebar. Also, keep in mind that there’s no a lot of room to add content on your sidebar navigation menu, so try and keep your information concise.

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

To get the content code, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Screen.

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your Site

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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 WordPress Widgets To The Sidebar Navigation AreaIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In this section you are going to learn how to configure other commonly-used sidebar widgets.

Add A Categories Widget

Now that you know how to set up a text widget containing a clickable contact button, let’s configure a widget to display Post Categories.

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

WordPress Post Categories Widget

(WordPress Post Categories widget)

Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to your sidebar, we recommend configuring your post categories inside the dashboard …

WordPress Post Categories Screen

(WordPress Post Categories Panel)

Note: How to use WordPress post categories will be explained in other tutorials.

Configure the Categories settings for this widget as shown below:

  • In Title: type something that will make sense to your visitors, like “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you plan to have many categories (this significantly reduces the length of the widget content by displaying all categories in a drop-down menu). Leave the box unticked if you want a list of all categories to display on your sidebar. (2)
  • Leave the default settings for the remaining options, or see the additional notes on configuring the Categories widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

Configuring a WordPress Categories Widget

(Configuring a WordPress Categories widget)

Load the site in your browser or refresh your page to see how the sidebar categories will look to your site visitors …

Categories widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar area)

Practical 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 option, otherwise leave this box unchecked.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category on your site, 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

The Recent Posts widget typically appears on the sidebar by default. All you need to do is configure this widget.

Click on your Recent Posts widget title bar to display the configuration settings …

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is really not much to configure. You can add a title if you want, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you’re happy with the default Number of posts to show setting, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise change the number of posts and click Save when done …

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

Your most recent posts will appear on the sidebar navigation area …

Recent Posts widget added to sidebar section

(Recent Posts widget displayed on sidebar)

To learn how to create WordPress Posts, see this step-by-step tutorial: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Add A Pages Widget To The Blog Sidebar Section

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar 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 sidebar widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar

(Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar menu)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following settings:

  • Title: Add a title to the widget (e.g. “Useful Sections“) (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 your sidebar navigation menu (3) …

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(WordPress Pages Widget settings)

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

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – item sorting options)

To prevent pages from displaying on the widget, type in the Page Ids for the pages you would like to exclude separated by commas into the Exclude field of the Pages widget …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – excluding pages)

How to find a WordPress page ID is covered in this step-by-step tutorial: How To Locate A Page Or Post ID In WordPress

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

Links to the blog’s pages will now show in your sidebar …

Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(Pages Widget on blog sidebar)

Tip

Tip: You can add multiple Pages widgets to your sidebar. This is helpful if you would like to display separate groups of pages on the sidebar (e.g. “Products”, “Legal Pages” etc.)

Display Links On Your WordPress Sidebar Section

Next, let’s add a widget to your WordPress sidebar area to display links to external resources.

Before adding the Links widget to the sidebar navigation menu, we first recommend setting up the Links section inside the dashboard …

WordPress Links screen

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: We plan to provide a separate step-by-step tutorial if you need help on how to set up and use the WordPress Links feature.

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

WordPress Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the Links widget to your active area …

Making 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 …

WordPress 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 WordPress Links Widgets To Your Sidebar Menu

(Add Multiple WordPress Links Widgets To Your Sidebar)

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

WordPress 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 …

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

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

When you have finished configuring the Links Widget, click the Save button …

Links added to sidebar

(External links added to WordPress 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 sidebar section.

How To Use Widgets In WordPress

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This is the end of part three of this series of tutorials.

Click here to continue:

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