WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets

As we discuss in this post, one of the many benefits of choosing the WordPress web publishing software to build and grow your website is that you can easily add content, expand your site’s functionality, and reconfigure the layout of your website with no coding skills or knowledge required.

WordPress gives you the ability to easily add, remove, and manage content from your website’s sidebar section (or header and footer sections too, depending on what theme is installed on your site) 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 the theme you have installed) like:

(WordPress widgets help make managing and using WordPress easy)

To learn more about what WP widgets are, how they work and how using widgets can help you expand your site’s functionality, go here:

In this tutorial series you are going to learn how to use and configure a number of frequently-used WordPress widgets.

How To Use Widgets In WordPress

What You Need To Know First

Before we show you how to configure widgets, it helps to first cover some of the basics of how to use widgets:

Most WordPress Themes Support Widget-Ready Areas

Many WordPress themes support widgets and provide widgetized areas in the theme’s layout where widgets can be added, such as the sidebar navigation section, header area, and the footer area. Depending on the theme, widgets can sometimes also be used inside the content area …

(Many themes offer users multiple widget sections)

These widgetized sections correspond to a feature inside your Widget panel called “Widget Areas” …

(Widget Areas)

Widgets Screen

The Widgets area displays a list of all the widgets that are available.

On the right-hand side of the window, you can see your “active” widgets …

(Widgets can be activated or deactivated using drag & drop)

Available widgets can be activated or deactivated by dragging & dropping items to different areas of the screen.

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

The Widgets area also includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove widgets that you no longer want to use on your site. Inactive widgets retain their pre-configured settings.

Reorganize Widgets Using Drag-And-Drop

You can easily add, activate, deactivate, reorder and remove widgets by dragging and dropping items inside your Widgets area …

(Rearrange your site’s widgets using drag & drop)

You can also easily rearrange your theme’s layout with drag & drop ease.

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

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

(Widgets control how certain features on your site display)

Inside the Widget area, you would see that the front-end features appear on the site in the same order as they were arranged in the back-end widget area …

Let’s now reorganize the above widgets in the Sidebar Widget Area by dragging & dropping some of these items around …

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

The widgets have now been reordered in the sidebar area …

As you can see, this instantly changes the layout of the sidebar.

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can improve your site’s 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’ image banner (2) is now found above the newsletter subscription form (1) …

(Rearrange sidebar layout using widgets to improve visitor experience)

Deleting Widgets From Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Area

Deleting widgets from your sidebar menu is really easy.

For example, let’s show you how to remove the Search widget from your sidebar …

(WordPress Search widget)

To remove an active widget, either open up the widget and click the Delete link …

(Delete a WordPress widget)

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

(How to remove widgets)

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

Widget Settings

Most widgets can be customized further. This includes hiding information from users (but allowing access to registered users), displaying additional forms, fields, or data, specifying dimensions 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 the widget …

(Toggling expands/collapse widget settings)

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

(Widget settings)

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

(Some widgets offer little to no customizable options)

Widget Previews

Depending upon the WordPress theme you choose, you can also manage widgets without actually making changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you are happy with your customizations before committing anything to your site.

The ability to manage widgets inside your own dashboard 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 any changes you’ve made (to avoid making errors), or manage widgets on the fly using the Widget editor area.

(Edit widgets in the Customize feature)

Wherever you are on the front-end just calick the Customize link in the toolbar …

(Toolbar Customize Link)

This brings you to the Customizer feature in the backend.

You can do many edits, modifications and adjustments to widgets in preview mode (like adding, deleting and reorganizing your widgets), and see all changes in real time. If you are happy with the results, click the “Save and Publish” button and your changes will instantly become visible on the site’s frontend.

(Widget management – configure widgets on the fly!)

After saving changes, your site will automatically update the widget settings and display your new configuration to your site visitors.

Because WordPress Themes can display elements differently on your site, we recommend installing the theme first before configuring widgets on your sidebar menu.

Also, remember to use the WordPress Customizer to preview all changes. This will save you from having to keep two browsers open while you go through this tutorial (one to work in and one to check how your changes are coming along).

Now that you know the basics of using widgets, the next step is to configure a number of commonly-used WordPress sidebar widgets.


This is the end of part 1 of this tutorial.

Click on this link to continue reading:


"Your training is the best in the world! It is simple, yet detailed, direct, understandable, memorable, and complete." Andrea Adams, FinancialJourney.org


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