As we have discussed in this article, one of the many benefits of using WordPress is that you can easily add content, expand your site’s functionality, or reconfigure the layout of your website without web coding skills required.
WordPress allows you to quickly and easily add, delete, and manage various types of content in your website’s sidebar navigation area (and header and footer sections, depending on what theme you are using) using widgets.
Once you know how to use widgets, you can easily add things to your site’s sidebar area (plus headers and footers and other areas, depending on your theme) like:
- list of your web pages
- blog categories
- archived blog posts
- menus that display only selected pages
- links to external sites
- posts that you want to promote
- clickable ad banners
- survey results
- RSS feed items
- opt-in form
- video galleries
- twitter feeds
- display widgets from external sites (e.g. Facebook friends)
- administrative forms (e.g. login, register, etc.)
(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 your site’s capabilities, see this article:
In this step-by-step tutorial series we show you how to use and configure various frequently-used WordPress widgets.
Using Widgets In WordPress
Before configuring and using widgets, let’s explain some of the basics about using widgets:
Most WordPress Themes Support Widget-Ready Areas
Most WordPress themes support widgets and provide built-in widget-ready areas in the theme’s layout where widgets can be used, such as the sidebar, header area, and the footer area. Depending on the theme, widgets can also display in the content area …
(Many WordPress themes offer users multiple widget-enabled sections)
These widget-ready sections correspond to a feature inside the Widget administration area called “Widget Areas” …
The Widgets panel displays a list of all the widgets that are available.
The right-hand section of the window displays your “active” widgets …
(Widgets can be activated or deactivated using drag and drop)
Available widgets can be activated or deactivated by dragging-and-dropping items to different sections of the widgets screen.
Widgets dragged from the Available Widgets section to widget areas like your sidebar, footer, etc. become available for use.
In addition, your Widgets area includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove widgets that you no longer want on your site. Inactive widgets do not lose their settings.
Rearrange WordPress Widgets With Drag-And-Drop
You can easily add new functionality to your site, or activate, deactivate, rearrange and remove things using widgets with drag and drop inside your Widgets section …
(Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag and drop)
You can also easily reorder the order and layout of your site’s widgetized layout using drag & drop.
For example, in the image below, the widgets have already been configured to display things on your site like:
- A subscription form,
- A contact support banner, and
- A ‘click to call’ function from a widgetized plugin (i.e. a WordPress plugin with an accompanying widget) …
(Widgets control the order certain features on your site appear)
If we could peek inside the Widget area, you would see that the front end features display on the site’s sidebar menu in exactly the same order as their corresponding widgets were arranged in the backend widget area …
Let’s now rearrange the order of these widgets in the Widget Area using drag-and-drop …
(Drag and drop widgets in your widget area to rearrange their order)
The widgets have now been reorganized in the sidebar menu …
This instantly reorganizes the order of items in your sidebar.
Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can improve visitor experience.
Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ function (3) is now the first item on the sidebar, and the support image button (2) has been moved to the spot above the newsletter sign-up form (1) …
(Reorganize sidebar elements with widgets to improve visitor experience)
Deleting Widgets From The WordPress Blog Sidebar Navigation Area
Deleting widgets from your sidebar is really easy.
For example, let’s show you how to remove the Search widget from your sidebar …
(WordPress Search widget)
To delete an active widget, either open up the widget and click the Delete link …
(How to delete a widget)
Or just drag the widget out of the Active Widgets section and into the Inactive Widgets area …
(Removing your widgets)
Repeat this process for all widgets you want removed from the sidebar. You can always restore widgets by dragging them back into the active widgets area.
Most widgets can be further customized. This can include things like making certain types of information hidden to 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 toggles between expanding and collapsing the item and displays the settings for that widget …
(Toggle to expand/collapse widget settings)
When the widget expands, you can change and save your settings, remove your widget from the “Active Widgets” section, close the widget, or click on the triangle to collapse the widget settings …
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 customizable options)
Customize Widgets Section
Depending on which theme you choose, you’re also able to manage and customize widgets without making actual changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you like your customizations before making any permanent changes to your website.
Widget management is a valuable 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 before publishing it (and avoid making mistakes), or configure widgets on the fly using the Widget editor area.
(Edit widgets live in the Customize section)
When viewing your site on the front-end just calick the Customize link in the toolbar …
(Toolbar Customize Link)
This brings you to the Customizer section in the backend.
You can do several edits, modifications and adjustments to widgets in preview mode (like adding, removing and moving widgets around), and it will all be done in real time. If you are happy with the results, click the “Save and Publish” button and your changes will then be instantly applied and reflected on the site’s frontend.
(Widget management – work in preview mode)
After saving your changes, WordPress will automatically update the widget settings and display the new configuration to your site visitors.
Since the WordPress theme you use can affect how elements display on your site, we recommend installing the theme first before configuring widgets on the sidebar menu.
Also, remember to use the Customizer feature to preview your changes. This saves you from having to keep two browsers open while you complete this tutorial.
Now that you know the basics of using widgets, the next step is to begin configuring a number of frequently-used WordPress widgets.
This is the end of section 1 of this tutorial.
To continue reading, click here:
"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