WordPress allows you to quickly and easily insert, remove, and reorganize various blocks of content on your blog’s sidebar navigation section (and 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 your theme) like:
- index of pages
- post categories
- custom menus
- links to resources
- most popular posts
- recent comments
- content from RSS feeds
- member login section
- video galleries
- social media buttons
- add widgets from other sites (e.g. affiliate programs)
- administrative forms (e.g. login, register, etc.)
(WP widgets help make managing and using WordPress easier)
To learn more about what widgets are, how they work and how using widgets can help you expand your site’s capabilities, see this article:
In this step-by-step tutorial we will show you how to use and configure a number of commonly-used WordPress widgets.
How To Use Widgets
Widgets – The Basics
Before we start configuring and using widgets, let’s first make sure that you understand some of the basic concepts about how to use widgets:
Most WordPress Themes Support Widgetized Areas
Many WordPress themes support widgets and provide built-in sections in the theme’s layout where widgets can be used, such as the sidebar navigation section, header area, and footer sections. Depending on the theme installed on your site, widgets can also be added in the content area …
(Many WordPress themes offer users multiple widget areas)
These widgetized layouts correspond to a feature inside your Widget administration screen called “Widget Areas” …
Your Widgets Panel
The Widgets section displays all the widgets that are available.
The right-hand section of the window displays the “active” widgets …
(Activate or deactivate widgets using drag & drop)
Available widgets can be made Active or Inactive by dragging-and-dropping items to different sections of the panel.
Widgets dragged from the Available Widgets section to widget areas like your sidebar, footer, etc. become available for use.
The Widgets panel also includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove any widgets that you no longer want on your website. Inactive widgets retain their settings.
Rearrange WordPress Widgets With Drag And Drop
You can easily insert, activate, deactivate, rearrange and delete widgets by dragging and dropping items inside your Widgets section …
(Rearrange widgets using drag-and-drop)
You can also easily reconfigure your theme’s layout using drag and drop.
For example, take a look at the image below. In this site, the widgets have already been configured to display things like:
- An opt-in form,
- A contact support banner, and
- A ‘click to call’ section from a widgetized plugin (i.e. a WordPress plugin that adds an accompanying widget to your site) …
(Widgets control how certain features display on your WordPress site)
If we look inside the example site’s Widget area, you will see that these features appear on the site in the same order as they are arranged in the active widget screen …
If we reorganize the above widgets in the Sidebar Widget Area by dragging and dropping elements …
(Drag & drop widgets in your widget area to rearrange their order)
The widget features have now been reorganized in the sidebar section …
As you can see, this immediately changes the order of items in the sidebar.
Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can improve visitor experience.
Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ feature (3) is now first the sidebar, and the ‘contact us’ section (2) now sits above the newsletter subscription form (1) …
(Rearranging sidebar layout with widgets can improve your site’s user experience)
Removing Widgets From The WordPress Blog Sidebar Area
Deleting widgets from your WordPress sidebar section is really easy.
For example, let’s remove the Search widget from the sidebar …
(WordPress Search widget)
To delete a widget from an active Widget area, either open up the widget and click the Delete link …
(Delete your WordPress widgets)
Or just drag the widget out of the Active Widgets section and into the Inactive Widgets area …
(How to remove WordPress widgets)
Repeat this process for any other widgets you want removed from the sidebar. You can always restore widgets by moving them back into the active widgets area.
Many widgets offer additional options that allow you to further configure things. This includes hiding information from users, displaying additional forms, fields, or data, specifying dimensions of sidebar images, videos, etc.
Click on the little triangle in the corner of a widget to toggle between expanding and collapsing the item …
(Toggling expands/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 …
Some widgets give you little to no configurable options, or they may only allow you to add something like an optional title …
(Some widgets give you little to no customizable options)
WordPress Theme Customizer
Depending upon which theme you have installed, you’re also able to preview any changes live without making actual changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you like the customized edits before committing anything to your site.
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 prior to publishing it (and avoid making mistakes), or manage widgets on the fly using the Widget editor screen.
(preview widget changes live in the Customize feature)
Wherever you are on the front-end just calick the Customize link in the toolbar …
(Customize link in the toolbar)
This brings you to the Customizer screen in the back-end.
You can do several edits, modifications and adjustments to widgets in preview mode (like inserting, deleting and moving widgets around), and see all changes in real time. If you are happy with the results, click the “Save and Publish” button and the changes will instantly become visible on the blog’s frontend.
(Widget management – configure widgets on the fly!)
After saving changes, all changes made to widgets will be automatically updated.
Since the theme you use determines how elements display on your site, we recommend that you install the theme first before configuring widgets.
Also, remember to use the WordPress Customizer to preview all changes. This saves you from having to keep two browsers open while you go through this tutorial (one to work in and one to see the site the way your visitors will see it).
Now that you know the basics of using widgets, let’s start configuring various frequently-used WordPress sidebar widgets.
This is the end of part one of this tutorial series about how to use Widgets.
Click on this link to continue:
"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