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.

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your SidebarAs we have discussed in this post, there are so many great things about choosing the WordPress web publishing application for building and managing a digital presence. One of these is that you can easily add content, expand your website’s functionality, or reconfigure the layout of your site without having web programming skills or knowledge.

WordPress allows you to quickly and easily add, delete, and rearrange content from your website’s sidebar (or header and footer sections too, depending on what theme you are using) using widgets.

Once you know how to use widgets, you can easily add things to your site like:

  • website page list
  • blog categories
  • archive
  • menus
  • links to external sites
  • most read posts
  • post comments
  • clickable ads
  • customer testimonials
  • polls & surveys
  • RSS content excerpts
  • opt-in form
  • product images
  • Facebook feeds
  • add widgets from other sites (e.g. Amazon)
  • administrative forms (e.g. login, register, etc.)

WP widgets make managing and using WordPress easy!

(WP widgets make managing and using WordPress easier)

To learn more about what WordPress widgets are, how widgets work and how using widgets can help you expand the functionality of your website, see this article:

In this tutorial we teach you how to use and configure a number of commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

How To Use Widgets

Widgets – Basic Concepts

Before we show you how to configure widgets, let’s cover some of the basics of how to use widgets:

Most WordPress Themes Support Widget-Ready Areas

Most WordPress themes support widgets and provide widget-ready areas in your theme’s layout where widgets can be added, such as the sidebar, header area, and the footer area. Depending on the theme, widgets can sometimes also be found in the content area …

(Many WP themes provide a number of widget-ready sections)

(Many themes offer users a number of widget-enabled areas)

These widget-ready areas correspond to a feature inside your Widget management area called “Widget Areas” …

Widget Areas

(Widget Areas)

The Widgets Screen

The Widgets area displays a list of all the widgets that can be used on your site.

The right-hand section of the window displays the “active” widgets …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag and drop

(Activate or deactivate widgets by dragging and dropping)

Available widgets can be made Active or Inactive using drag & drop.

Widgets dragged from the Available Widgets section to widget areas like your sidebar, footer, etc. automatically become activated for use on your site.

In addition, the Widgets area includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove widgets that you no longer want to use on your website. Inactive widgets retain their pre-configured settings.

Reorganize WordPress Widgets Using Drag & Drop

You can easily insert, activate, deactivate, reorder and remove things using widgets just by dragging and dropping items inside the Widgets area …

Rearrange widgets using drag-and-drop

(Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag-and-drop)

You can also easily reconfigure the layout of your website’s widget-ready sections with drag and drop ease.

For example, take a look at the image below. In this site, the widgets have already been configured to show the following:

  1. A subscription form,
  2. A click for support banner, and
  3. ’Click to call’ buttons from a widgetized WP plugin (i.e. a plugin that adds an accompanying widget to your site) …

Widgets control the order certain features appear on your site

(Widgets control the order certain features display on your WordPress site)

If we take a look inside this site’s Widget area, you will see that these features display on the site in exactly the same order as they have been arranged in the active widget section …

Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag and drop

Let’s now reorganize the above widgets in the Sidebar Widget Area by dragging and dropping some things around …

Drag and drop to rearrange widgets in the widget area

(Drag-and-drop widgets in the widget area to rearrange their order)

The widget features have now been reorganized in the sidebar menu …

Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag and drop

This immediately changes the layout of the sidebar.

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help improve user experience.

Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ function (3) is now at the top of the sidebar, and the ‘contact us’ banner (2) can now be found above the newsletter sign-up form (1) …

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve your site's user experience

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

Deleting Widgets From Your Sidebar Area

Removing widgets from your sidebar is very easy.

For example, let’s remove the Search widget from your sidebar …

WordPress Search widget

(Search widget)

To remove a widget from an active Widget area, you can either expand the widget and click the Delete link …

How to delete widgets

(How to delete WordPress widgets)

Or just drag the widget out of the Active Widgets area and drop it into the Inactive Widgets area …

Remove widgets

(Removing your widgets)

Repeat this process for all widgets you want to remove from the sidebar navigation area. You can always reinstate widgets by dragging them back into the active widgets area.

Widget Settings

Most widgets can be further customized. This includes making certain types of information hidden to your site visitors but visible to registered users, displaying additional forms, fields, or information, specifying sizes of sidebar images, videos, etc.

Clicking on the little triangle in the corner of a widget expands the item and displays the widget’s settings …

Toggle to expand/collapse widget settings

(Toggle to expand/collapse widget settings)

When the widget expands, you can change and save your settings, delete your widget from the “Active Widgets” section, close the widget, or click on the triangle to collapse the widget …

Widget settings

(Widget settings)

Useful Info

Some widgets may require or offer no customization, or they may only allow you to add something like an optional title …

Some widgets offer little to no configuration options

(Some widgets provide users with little to no configuration options)

Preview Widgets

Depending upon which WP theme you use, you can also preview any changes live without actually making changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you like the customized edits before committing anything to your website or blog.

Widget management is a great feature of WordPress. You can work in preview mode inside the WordPress Theme Customizer screen (Appearance > Customize) and see how the widget content will appear prior to publishing it (and avoid making mistakes), or change your widgets on the fly using the Widget editor screen.

preview widget changes live in the Customize section

(Edit widgets in the Customize section)

If you need to make changes to your site while viewing the frontend, just click on the Customize link …

Customize your site quickly

(Customize link in the toolbar)

This brings you to the Customizer section in the backend.

You can do many things to widgets in preview mode (like adding, deleting and moving widgets around), and it will all be done in real time. If you are happy with what you’ve done, click the “Save and Publish” button and the changes will be instantly updated and reflected on your site to visitors.

Widget management - configure widgets on the fly!

(Widget management – configure widgets on the fly!)

Once your changes are saved, your site will automatically update the widget settings and display your new configuration to your site visitors.

Useful Tip

Since WordPress Themes can display elements differently on your site, we recommend that you install your theme first before configuring widgets.

Also, remember to use the WordPress Customizer to preview all changes. This will save you from having to keep two browsers open while you work through this tutorial (one to work in and one to see your site the way your visitors will see it).

Now that you know the basics of using widgets, let’s begin configuring a number of commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar Menu


This is the end of part one of this tutorial.

To view Part Two, click this link:


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group