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|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 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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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

***

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.

Using WidgetsIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various sidebar widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we are going to complete the step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more commonly-used WordPress sidebar 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 Your Sidebar

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(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 a widget feed, type it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Select how many RSS feed items you want to show on the sidebar section from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to show the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Check 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 blog.

The example below shows a published RSS widget configured with the settings shown above …

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget added to sidebar area)

The example below shows the RSS 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

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar section that will display a tag list.

Important Info

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

Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is very little to configure. 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 …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar navigation menu …

Tag cloud displaying WordPress tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

The screenshot below shows a published Tag Cloud widget configured for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories)

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

How To Configure The WordPress Archives Section In Your Sidebar

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

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

The Archives Widget lets your visitors access older published WordPress posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s really not much to configure. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows a published Archives widget set for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget displayed on sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar section)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful features of 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 Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Override Default Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets section, however, you will find that no widgets have actually been added to the available widget areas …

Override Default Widgets

This is because the theme above may be using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with your selected widgets instead.

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

Add a blank text widget …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you in an earlier example, with WordPress you can completely reorganize how information displays in widgetized areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

Reorganize sidebar layout using widgets to improve visitor experience

(Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve visitor experience)

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

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

If, for some reason, you find that you cannot move widgets around using drag-and-drop (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still work with widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via your Screen Options, allows you to use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag and drop.

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your dashboard and navigate to the Widgets section …

Widgets Menu

(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

(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 link respectively …

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 opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, plus dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display your selected widget with options for changing its settings.

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

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

(Turn off accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own 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 when you install new plugins on your website.

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you want to add to your sidebar…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we really need is the content so we can paste it into the custom widget.

To get the content code, click on the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Now, 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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget will be added to the sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure several commonly-used sidebar widgets.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In Your WordPress 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

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

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

Adding Post Categories

Now that you know how to set up a text widget containing a clickable support button, let’s configure a widget to display Post Categories on the sidebar navigation area.

The Categories widget already displays on your sidebar area by default. Place the widget wherever you want your categories to display by clicking and dragging it on the sidebar widget area …

Post Categories Widget

(WordPress Post Categories widget)

Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to the sidebar, we recommend first setting up the Post Categoriesfeature inside the WordPress dashboard …

WordPress Post Categories Panel

(WordPress Categories Screen)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on how to configure and use WordPress post categories.

Configure the Categories settings for this widget as shown below:

  • In Title: type something that will make sense to visitors, for example, “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you have too many categories (this significantly reduces the size 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 the sidebar. (2)
  • Leave the default settings for the remaining options, or see the additional notes on configuring this widget below.
  • Click Save when finished …

Configuring a Categories Widget

(Categories widget settings)

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

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar

(WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar navigation menu)

Useful 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 section as is.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category, 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 A Recent Posts Widget

The Recent Posts widget normally shows on the sidebar area by default. All you need to do is configure this widget.

Click on the Recent Posts widget title bar to configure its settings …

Recent Posts widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is very little to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you want 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

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

The number of posts you’ve specified will display on the sidebar navigation area …

Recent Posts WordPress widget on blog sidebar

(Recent Posts WordPress widget on sidebar navigation area)

To learn how to create and edit a WordPress Post, see this tutorial: How To Create A New Post In WordPress

Displaying Your Site’s Main Pages In The WordPress Sidebar

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar navigation menu to display the pages you select.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(WordPress Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your sidebar widget area …

Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into your sidebar

(Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into the sidebar)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following settings:

  • Title: Add a title to the widget (e.g. “Site Information“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or by page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Use this setting to prevent pages from showing on the sidebar (3) …

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(Pages Widget settings)

By default, pages will be listed 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

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sort options)

To exclude pages from displaying to your visitors, enter their Page Ids separated by commas into the Exclude field …

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – excluding pages by ID)

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

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

Links to your site’s main pages will now appear on the sidebar navigation section …

Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar)

Useful Tip

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

Add A Links Widget

Next, we’ll add a Links widget to the sidebar navigation area.

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

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: How to configure Links will be explained in other 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 …

Make Links Widget active

(Making Links Widget active)

The 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

(Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to your sidebar navigation section 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

(Add Multiple Links Widgets To The Sidebar)

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 …

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

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

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

Links added to sidebar navigation section

(External links added to sidebar navigation section)

As the above example shows, you can display specific links to your site visitors (e.g. a list for a specific link category only), and add multiple lists of links to your WordPress sidebar.

How To Add Widgets To The WordPress Sidebar

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

To keep reading, click here:

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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

***