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 …

How To Add WordPress Widgets To Your WebsiteIn Part 1 of this tutorial, 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 various commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, you are going to complete this tutorial series by learning how to configure a few more commonly-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 Section

Let’s add An RSS widget to display news items on the sidebar.

To add the widget, find 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: Enter the URL of your RSS feed here.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add an optional title to the widget, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many RSS feed items you want to show on the sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box to show the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you would like to display the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box if you want to show the item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation section)

The example below shows a published RSS widget configured with additional 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 Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

Now, let’s add a widget to display tags on the sidebar section.

Important

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

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is not much to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when done …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

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

Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories)

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

Configuring Your WordPress Archives Section

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

As you keep publishing new posts in 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 your visitors to access WordPress posts that you may have published some months ago …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s very little to configure in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows an Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget displayed on sidebar)

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

Widgets – Useful 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:

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, the site below shows a couple of widgets in the sidebar …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Override Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, WordPress lets you completely reorder how information is displayed in widgetized areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve user experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

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

You can rearrange your sidebar layout using widgets to improve visitor experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you are unable to use drag-and-drop to move widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still work with 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 WordPress dashboard and go to the Widgets section …

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 Enable accessibility mode

Turn on accessibility mode

(Switch 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 …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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 the widget location, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “4”, etc.) …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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 update your settings and return to the Active Widgets section, or click the Delete button to delete 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)

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets – A Simple Cheat

Most widgets 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 an easy way to create your own sidebar widgets:

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Make sure that any images you use fit the maximum width of your sidebar. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to put content on your blog sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we are really after is to copy the content HTML to paste into a widget.

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select everything in the editor window and copy it to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, 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 Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget is now added to the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add Widgets To WordPress

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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 WordPress Widgets In The WebsiteIn Part 1 of this tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In this tutorial you will configure other widgets.

Adding Categories To Your Blog Sidebar

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

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

Post Categories Widget

(Post Categories widget)

Tip

your your WordPress post categories …

Categories

(WordPress Post Categories Panel)

Note: We plan to provide separate step-by-step tutorials that explain how to set up and use categories in WordPress.

Configure your categories widget settings as shown below:

  • In Title: type something that will make sense to visitors, like “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you plan to add several categories (this significantly reduces the length of the widget content by displaying all categories inside a drop-down menu). If you plan to publish posts under a few categories only, then leave the Display as dropdown box unchecked. (2)
  • You can leave the default settings for the remaining options, or see the additional notes on configuring this widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

WordPress Categories Widget settings

(Categories widget settings)

Load the site in your web browser or refresh the page to see how your Categories widget will display to site visitors …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar)

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 box unchecked.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category, enable 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 is typically added to the sidebar section by default. All you need to do is configure your widget.

Click on its widget title bar to configure its settings …

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There’s not much to set up. 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 enter the number of posts to show and click Save when done …

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

The most recent number of posts you have specified will be listed on the sidebar navigation section …

Recent Posts WordPress widget added to sidebar

(Recent Posts widget added to sidebar)

For a tutorial about how to create WordPress Posts, go here: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Adding Links To Your Site’s Main Pages

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar navigation area to display page links.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your active widget section …

Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar

(Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following settings:

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

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(WordPress Pages Widget settings)

By default, pages are displayed by title in alphabetical order. If you want to display pages using another option, then choose a different method in the Sort by: drop-down menu …

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(Pages Widget settings – sorting options)

To exclude certain pages from displaying to visitors, type or paste in the Page Ids for the pages you would like excluded separated by commas into the Exclude field …

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(Pages Widget settings – exclude pages)

How to find a post or page ID in WordPress is explained in this tutorial: How To Locate Page And Post IDs In WordPress

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

Links to the blog’s main pages will now appear in the sidebar navigation section …

WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(Pages Widget on sidebar)

Useful Tip

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

Add A Links Widget

Next, we’ll add a Links widget to your sidebar.

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

WordPress Links screen

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: Setting up the Links feature in WordPress will be explained in separate tutorials.

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

WordPress Links Widget

(WordPress Links Widget)

Drag it to your sidebar …

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 menu …

Links Widget Settings

(WordPress Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to the sidebar menu 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 The 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 your Links Widget, click the Save button. Your links will become immediately visible on your site …

Links added to WordPress sidebar area

(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 link lists to your sidebar section.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In WordPress

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This is the end of section three of this tutorial about using Widgets.

To continue, click this link:

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