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 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 And Configure Widgets In Your WordPress Blog Sidebar MenuIn Part One 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 3, we began configuring a number of widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we explain how to complete the tutorial series by learning how to configure a few more commonly-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

Useful Information

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

Let’s now add An RSS widget to display news items on the 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: Paste the RSS feed URL here.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add an optional widget feed, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many items to display in the sidebar from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box to display the RSS feed item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the ideal combination for your site.

The screenshot below shows the RSS Feed widget configured as per the above settings …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published 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:

Add A Tag Cloud Widget To Your Sidebar Navigation Section

Let’s now add A Tag Cloud widget to your sidebar section.

Important

Tags displayed in your Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags section …

Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to configure 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 …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post tags)

The example below shows a published Tag Cloud widget set for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories)

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

How To Configure Your Archives Widget

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

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

The Archives Widget allows readers to access older content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really very little to configure. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area as a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts published each month . Click Save when finished …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget configured for showing posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on sidebar)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful things to know about WordPress widgets:

Add ‘Visibility’ Function To Widgets

Installing the Jetpack plugin not only adds many new widgets to your widgets area …

Jetpack Widgets

(Jetpack Widgets)

It also adds a useful ‘Visibility’ function to all WordPress widgets …

Jetpack adds 'Visibility' to all widgets

(Jetpack adds ‘Visibility’ to all widgets)

This function lets you specify whether to display or hide widgets from your sidebar based on conditions you set for a particular category, author, user. role, tag, date, or page …

Set conditions to show or hide widgets

(Set conditions to show or hide widgets)

This is a really useful function to have.

For example, you can:

  • Display a widget only on your home page or only on posts published under certain categories, tags, authors, dates, etc.
  • Configure widgets to display specific or time-sensitive announcements based on a post’s category, date, etc.
  • Configure widgets to display targeted ad banners based on a post’s category or tag.
  • Hide widgets from appearing on certain posts or pages to prevent users from being distracted (e.g. remove widgets with ads from your sales pages).
  • And more!

To learn more about using the Jetpack plugin, go here:

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

This theme may be using default widgets.

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

Note: If you want no widgets to show up in your sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar navigation section.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you previously, WordPress lets you quickly and easily rearrange how content displays in areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve user experience

(Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

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

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help to improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you are unable to use the drag & drop function 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 Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag-and-drop.

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

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

Once the feature has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets and the Active Widgets sections, widgets will display an Add and Edit links respectively …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the 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 delete the widget from the Active Widgets area …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Turn 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 an easy way to create your own custom sidebar widget:

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we are really looking for is the content HTML so we can paste it into the custom widget.

After creating your content, switch to the Text tab …

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Creating 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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget is now added to your sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

Configuring Widgets On The Sidebar Navigation Menu

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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.

Adding WordPress Widgets To The SidebarIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In this tutorial we will continue configuring other commonly-used WordPress widgets.

Add A Post Categories Section

Now that you have configure a text widget containing a contact button, let’s configure Post Categories.

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

WordPress Categories Widget

(Categories widget)

Useful Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to your sidebar, you should first configure your categories inside the dashboard …

Post Categories

(Post Categories Screen)

Note: Configuring and using categories in WordPress will be explained in separate 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 have too many categories (this significantly reduces the size of your 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 the sidebar. (2)
  • You can leave the other options unticked, or see the additional notes on configuring the Categories widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

Configuring a WordPress Categories Widget

(Categories widget settings)

Load the site in your web browser or refresh the page to see how the content will look to blog readers …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar navigation menu

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar section)

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, 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 normally displays on the sidebar navigation area by default. All you need to do is configure this widget.

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

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is 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 enter a number of posts to show and click Save

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

The number of posts you’ve specified will appear on the sidebar …

Recent Posts widget on sidebar navigation area

(Recent Posts widget displayed on sidebar)

For a tutorial on how to create and edit WordPress Posts, go here: How To Create A New WP Post

Adding A Pages Widget To The Blog Sidebar Menu

Next, let’s add a widget to your sidebar area for listing pages.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

WordPress Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your sidebar widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar area

(Inserting a Pages widget into your sidebar area)

The Pages widget allows you to configure the following settings:

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

Pages Widget settings

(Pages Widget settings)

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

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sorting options)

To exclude pages from showing in your widget, type or paste in the Page Ids for the pages you would like excluded separated by commas into the Exclude field of the Pages widget …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – exclude pages by ID)

For a step-by-step tutorial on how to find a WordPress page ID, go here: How To Locate Page And Post IDs In Your WP Site

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

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

Pages Widget on sidebar

(Pages Widget on sidebar)

Tip

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

Add A Links Widget To Your Sidebar Navigation Menu

Next, let’s add a widget to display external links on the sidebar.

Before adding a Links widget to the sidebar navigation menu, you should first configure the Links feature inside your dashboard …

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: Setting up and using Links will be covered in other tutorials.

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

WordPress Links Widget

(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 the 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 The Sidebar Area

(Add Multiple Links Widgets To Your Sidebar Navigation Section)

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 …

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

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

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

Links added to WordPress sidebar section

(Links added to sidebar navigation menu)

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 menu.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In Your WordPress Sidebar

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This is the end of part three of this tutorial.

To view Part 4, click this link:

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