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 …

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In The Sidebar Navigation AreaIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various default WordPress widgets.

In this final installment, we are going to complete this step-by-step tutorial by learning how to configure a few more frequently-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:

Adding A Newsfeed Section

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

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: Enter the RSS feed URL into this section.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add an optional widget title, enter it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of RSS feed items you would like to show in the sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box if you would like to show the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box to show the item item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

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

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar)

The example below shows a published RSS widget configured with other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

To learn more about using RSS feeds in WordPress, see this tutorial:

Adding A Tag Cloud Section

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

Useful Information

Tags displayed in the widget are managed in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to set up. You can add a title, 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 area …

Tag Cloud widget displaying tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying tags)

The example below shows the Tag Cloud widget set up for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories

(Tag cloud set to display categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Section In The Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is a common widget.

As you continue adding new posts to WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows visitors to view WordPress posts that you may have published a while ago …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

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

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget set up to show posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to sidebar

(Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful features worth knowing 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:

Overriding Default Widgets

If you see widgets displaying on your site’s sidebar menu that aren’t showing up 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 the sidebar.

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

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

The theme above could be using default widgets.

As soon as 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 want nothing to display in the sidebar menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget …

Override Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, with WordPress you can quickly reorganize how information displays in areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site's user experience

(Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help to improve visitor experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have rearranged the sidebar 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 with widgets to improve user experience.

If, for some reason, 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), you can still use widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your administration area and go to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Enable 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 …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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 a location to add the widget, plus dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display your selected widget with options for editing the widget’s 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 …

Enable 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 of the widgets that you will use 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 site.

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you would like to display in the sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Make sure that any images you use are resized to fit the maximum width of the sidebar menu. 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 publishing your Post – all we really want is to copy the content to paste into a widget.

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Create 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

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget will be added to the sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure various frequently-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Use Widgets

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

In this section you are going to learn how to configure other sidebar widgets.

Add A Categories Section To Your Sidebar Menu

Now that you know how to configure a text widget containing a clickable contact button, let’s configure a widget to display Categories on your sidebar area.

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

Post Categories Widget

(WordPress Post Categories widget)

Practical Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to your sidebar navigation area, we recommend first configuring your categories inside your WP dashboard …

Post Categories Panel

(WordPress Post Categories Screen)

Note: We plan to provide step-by-step tutorials about how to set up 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)
  • If you have too many categories, check Display as dropdown (this significantly reduces the length of the widget content by displaying all categories in a drop-down menu). Leave the box unchecked 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 to update your settings …

Configuring a Categories Widget

(Configuring a WordPress Categories widget)

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

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar

(Categories widget added to sidebar)

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 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 To The Blog Sidebar

The Recent Posts widget is normally added to your sidebar by default. All you need to do is configure the widget.

Click on its widget title bar to display the configuration settings …

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is very little to set up in this widget. You can add a title, select the number of posts to display and opt to 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 change the number of posts and click Save

Recent Posts widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

The most recent number of posts you have specified will be listed on your sidebar …

Recent Posts WordPress widget added to blog sidebar

(Recent Posts widget added to blog sidebar)

We provide a tutorial about how to create posts in WordPress here: How To Create A New WordPress Post

Adding A Pages Widget

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

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar

(Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar)

The Pages widget allows you to configure the following settings:

  • Title: Add a title to the widget (e.g. “Useful Information“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or by page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Prevent pages from being visible on your sidebar (3) …

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 select a different method in the Sort by: drop-down menu …

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sorting options)

To prevent certain pages from displaying in your widget, type in their Page Ids separated by commas into the Exclude field …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(Pages Widget settings – excluding pages by ID)

How to find a post or page ID in WordPress is covered in this step-by-step tutorial: Finding A WP Page Or Post ID

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

Links to your site’s main pages will now show on the sidebar navigation menu …

WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar)

Practical Tip

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

Add A Links Widget To The Blog Sidebar

Next, we’ll add a widget to your WordPress sidebar navigation menu to display external links (e.g. to useful resources, affiliate links, etc).

Before adding a Links widget to your sidebar area, you will first need to configure the Links section inside your WP dashboard …

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on how to configure the Links feature.

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

Links Widget

(WordPress Links Widget)

Drag it to your sidebar area …

Make 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 …

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 Links Widgets To Your Sidebar

(Add Multiple WordPress 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 …

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 …

Links added to sidebar navigation section

(Links added to 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 lists of links to your WordPress sidebar navigation menu.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar Navigation Menu

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This is the end of section 3 of this series of tutorials.

Click here to continue:

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