How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

Learn how to add and configure various useful WordPress widgets on your sidebar and how to create custom sidebar widgets …

How To Use WidgetsIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring a number of commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we show you how to complete the step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more frequently-used WordPress widgets.

Important Info

In WordPress v. 4.8, WordPress introduced new media widgets covering images, audio, and video, and an updated text widget that supports visual editing

WordPress 4.8 - WordPress Widget Updates

(WordPress 4.8 introduced new widget updates)

These widgets let you add content from your media library and media stored in other servers or storage locations (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.).

Let’s go through how to configure and use each of these widgets:

Rich Text Widget

From version 4.8 onward, WordPress has added native rich-text editing capabilities to text widgets …

Rich Text Widget

(Rich Text Widget)

This lets you format text, create lists, add emphasis, and insert links into your sidebar text quickly and easily …

(Format text easily with the new text widget)

To learn more about using text widgets in WordPress, see the tutorial below:

WordPress Image Widget

The WordPress Image Widget lets you add an image to your sidebar from your Media Library or an external storage location.

To add an image, drag an image widget to your active widgets area …

Image Widget

(Image Widget)

Click on ‘Add Image’ …

Let's add an image!

(Let’s add an image!)

Select an image from the Image Library, check or add image details (e.g. Caption, Alt text, Description, etc.) if desired and click the ‘Add to Widget’ button …

Select an image

(Select an image)

The image will automatically load into the widget area …

Image added to widget

(Image added to widget)

Add a Title to your image if you want, or leave the ‘Title:’ field blank and click ‘Save’ …

Save your image

(Save your image)

Preview your website and you should see the image displayed where you have placed your image widget …

Image added to website using image widget

(Image added to website using WordPress image widget)

If you want to link your image to an URL, go back to your image widget and click on ‘Edit Image’ …

Image Widget - Edit Image

(Image Widget – Edit Image)

Add a URL in the ‘Image Details’ > ‘Display Settings’ > ‘Link To’ screen and click the ‘Update’ button …

Link your image to an URL

(Link your image to an URL)

To add an image stored in an external server or remote location, locate and copy the URL of the image to your clipboard …

Copy image URL to your clipboard

(Copy image URL to your clipboard)

Go back to your image widget and click on ‘Replace Image’ …

Image Widget - Replace image

(Image Widget – Replace image)

The Media Library browser opens. Click on ‘Insert from URL’ and paste in the image URL copied to your clipboard, then click on ‘Add to Widget’  …

Add image URL

(Add image URL)

If you have previously added an image title in your widget, remember to replace it if required, then click ‘Save’ …

Save your new image

(Save your new image)

The new image will now display on your sidebar …

New image added using WordPress image widget

(New image added using WordPress image widget)

To learn more about adding images to WordPress, see this tutorial:

WordPress Video Widget

The WordPress Video Widget lets you add audio files to your sidebar from your Media Library, YouTube, Vimeo, or an external storage location.

To add a video to the sidebar, drag a Video widget to your active widgets area …

Drag a Video widget to your sidebar

(Drag a Video widget to your sidebar)

Click the ‘Add Video’ button …

Video widget - Add Video

(Video widget – Add Video)

Select a video from your media library or add a video URL and click the ‘Add to Widget’ button …

Add a video URL

(Add a video URL)

Add a title to the widget if desired and click ‘Save’ …

WordPress Video Widget - Save Button

(WordPress Video Widget – Save Button)

Your video will display on your site where the video widget has been added …

Video added using WordPress video widget

(Video added using WordPress video widget)

To learn more about adding video to WordPress, see this tutorial:

WordPress Audio Widget

The WordPress Audio Widget lets you add audio files like podcasts, music or a personal greeting to your sidebar from your media library or an external storage location.

To add an audio file to your sidebar, drag an audio widget to your active widgets area …

Add an audio widget to your sidebar

(Add an audio widget to your sidebar)

Click the ‘Add Audio’ button…

WordPress Audio Widget - Add Audio button

(WordPress Audio Widget – Add Audio button)

Select an audio file from your media library or insert the URL of an audio file stored in an external location …

Select your audio file

(Select your audio file)

Add a title to your widget if desired and click the ‘Save’ button …

Save the audio file on your audio widget

(Save the audio file on your audio widget)

Your site will now display an audio file to visitors where you have placed the audio widget …

Audio file added to your site using the WordPress Audio Widget

(Audio file added to your site using the WordPress Audio Widget)

To learn more about adding audios to WordPress, see this tutorial:

Adding An RSS Widget To Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

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

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

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 field.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add a title to the feed, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of feed items you want to display on your sidebar area from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you would like to show the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you want to show the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box if you want to show the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the combination that suits your needs best.

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar)

The example below shows the RSS Feed widget configured with some of the other 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 Section To The WordPress Sidebar Menu

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

Info

Tags displayed in your widget can be found in the Tags section …

Tags area

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really not much to set up. 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 done …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar section …

Tag cloud displaying tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget set to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud set to display categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories)

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

Configuring Your WordPress Archives Widget

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

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

The Archives Widget lets visitors view earlier content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s not much to set up. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows a published Archives widget configured to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to blog sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure your widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other areas 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:

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, the site below shows widgets in the sidebar area …

Overriding Default Widgets

If you look in the Widgets area, however, you may find that no widgets have actually been added to the active widget areas …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

This theme could be using default widgets.

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

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

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you in an earlier example, WordPress lets you easily and quickly reorder how information displays in widgetized areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can help improve user experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout using widgets to improve user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily redesigned the site’s sidebar 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.

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

If, however, you find that you are unable to use the drag-and-drop function to move widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), then you can still work with widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress administration area and go to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Enable 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 Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting the location to add the widget, and drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your widget area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

Enabling 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 …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Turn off accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets – An Easy Cheat

Most widgets 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 site.

If you want to create your own custom sidebar widget, then here is an easy way:

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use fit the maximum width of the sidebar section. Also, keep in mind that there’s no a lot of room to put content on your sidebar, 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 a widget.

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Create Your Own 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 widget will be added to the sidebar area…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add And Configure Widgets In Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

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"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now