WordPress allows you to quickly and easily add, delete, and control various types of content in your site’s sidebar section (or header and footer sections, 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:
- pages on your site
- blog post categories
- post archives
- custom menus
- links to resources
- posts that you want to promote
- recent comments
- clickable ads
- customer testimonials
- poll questions & results
- RSS feed items
- customers login section
- video thumbnails
- twitter feeds
- add widgets from other sites (e.g. Facebook)
- administrative forms (e.g. login, register, etc.)
(WordPress widgets help make managing and using WordPress easy)
To learn more about what widgets are, how widgets work and why widgets make managing your site easier, go here:
In this tutorial you are going to learn how to use and configure a number of frequently-used WordPress widgets.
Table of Contents
How To Use Widgets
Before we begin configuring and using widgets, let’s first review some of the basic concepts about how to use widgets:
Most WordPress Themes Support Widget-Ready Layouts
Many WordPress themes support widgets and provide sections in the theme’s layout where widgets can be added to, such as the sidebar navigation menu, header area, and footer. Depending on what theme you are using, widgets can sometimes also show up inside the content area …
(Many WP themes provide multiple widgetized areas)
These widgetized layouts correspond to a feature inside the Widget panel called “Widget Areas” …
The Widgets section displays all the widgets you have available.
The right-hand section of the screen 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 areas of the panel.
Widgets dragged from the Available Widgets section to widget areas like your sidebar, footer, etc. immediately become activated for use.
In addition, your Widgets area includes an Inactive Widgets section that lets you remove any widgets that you no longer want to actively display on your site. Inactive widgets retain their pre-configured settings.
Rearrange WordPress Widgets With Drag And Drop
You can easily add, activate, deactivate, rearrange and remove widgets just by dragging and dropping items inside your Widgets section …
(Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag-and-drop)
You can also easily rearrange your theme’s layout with drag-and-drop ease.
For example, in the image below, the widgets have already been configured to display things on your site like:
- A subscription form,
- A click for support banner, and
- A ‘click to call’ function from a widgetized WordPress plugin (i.e. a plugin that adds an accompanying widget to your site) …
(Widgets control the order certain features appear on your site)
Looking inside the Widget area, you would see that the front end features display on the site in the same order as they have been arranged in the active widget section …
Let’s now reorganize the above widgets in the Sidebar Widget Area using drag-and-drop …
(Drag & drop widgets in your widget area to rearrange their order)
The widget features have now been reordered in your sidebar …
As you can see, this immediately reorganizes the layout of the sidebar.
Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can improve user experience.
Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ feature (3) is now first the sidebar, and the ‘contact us’ image button (2) can now be found above the newsletter sign-up form (1) …
(Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can help improve your site’s user experience)
Removing widgets from your sidebar is really easy.
For example, let’s delete the Search widget from your sidebar …
(WordPress Search widget)
To remove an active widget, you can either expand the widget and click the Delete link …
(Deleting WordPress widgets)
Or just drag the widget out of the Active Widgets area and into the Inactive Widgets section …
(Removing your WordPress widgets)
Repeat this process for all widgets you want removed from your sidebar navigation menu. You can always restore a widget by dragging it back into the active widgets area.
Many widgets can be further customized. This can include things like making certain types of information hidden to your site visitors but visible 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 widget’s settings …
(Toggles expand/collapse widget settings)
When the widget expands, you can change and save your settings, click Delete to delete the widget from the “Active Widgets” section, close the widget, or click on the triangle to collapse the widget settings …
Some widgets provide users with little to no configurable options, or they may only allow you to add something like an optional title …
(Some widgets provide users with little to no customizing options)
Depending on which WordPress theme you are using, you’re also able to manage widgets without making actual changes to your site. This way, you can be sure that you like the customized edits before committing anything to your website.
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 your widget content will appear prior to publishing it (and avoid making errors), or change widgets on the fly using the Widget editor screen.
(Edit widgets in the Customize section)
If you need to make changes to the site while viewing the front-end, just click on the Customize link …
(Toolbar Customize Link)
This brings you to the Customizer section in the back-end.
You can do plenty of modifications and adjustments to your widgets in preview mode (like adding, deleting and reorganizing your widgets), and this will all be done in real time. If you like what you’ve done, click the “Save and Publish” button and your changes will then be instantly applied and reflected to your site visitors.
(Widget management – work in preview mode)
As soon as your changes have been saved, your site will automatically update the widget settings and display your new configuration to your site visitors.
Since WordPress Themes can display elements differently on your site, we recommend that you install the theme first before configuring widgets.
Also, remember to use the Customizer feature to preview all changes. This saves you from having to keep two browsers open while you work through this tutorial.
Now that you know the basics of using widgets, it’s time to learn how to configure a number of commonly-used WordPress widgets.
This is the end of section 1 of this tutorial.
To view the rest of this tutorial, click here: