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 using WordPress is that you can easily add content, enhance your site’s functionality, and change the layout of your site without web coding knowledge required.

WordPress lets you easily add, delete, and reorganize various blocks of content from your site’s sidebar navigation area (and header and footer sections, depending on what theme you have installed) 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:

(WP widgets make managing and using WordPress easier)

To learn more about what widgets are, how widgets work and how using widgets can help you expand your site’s capabilities, see this article:

In this tutorial we show you how to use and configure various frequently-used WordPress widgets.

How To Use WordPress Widgets

The Basics

Before we show you how to configure widgets, it helps to first make sure that you understand some of the basics about using widgets:

Most WordPress Themes Support Widgetized Areas

Many WordPress themes support widgets and provide widgetized sections in the theme’s layout where widgets can be added to, such as the sidebar navigation menu, header area, and footer. Depending on your theme, widgets can sometimes also be added below or above the content area …

(Many themes offer users a number of widget-enabled areas)

These widgetized layouts correspond to a feature inside your Widget management screen called “Widget Areas” …

(Widget Areas)

Your Widgets Panel

The Widgets panel displays a list of all the widgets that are currently available for use on your site.

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

(Activate or deactivate widgets with drag and drop ease)

Available widgets can be made Active or Inactive 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. automatically become activated for use.

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

Reorganize WordPress Widgets Using Drag-And-Drop

You can easily add functionality to your site, and activate, deactivate, reorder and delete things using widgets using simple drag & drop in the Widgets section …

(Rearrange widgets on your WordPress site using drag-and-drop)

You can also easily reorder the order and layout of your theme’s widgetized areas by dragging and dropping widgets.

For example, take a look at the image below. In this site, the widgets have already been configured to display things on your site like:

  1. An opt-in form,
  2. A click for support button, and
  3. ’Click to call’ buttons from a widgetized plugin (i.e. a WordPress plugin with an accompanying widget) …

(Widgets control the order certain features on your site display)

If you could peek inside the Widget area, you would see that the front-end features appear on the site’s sidebar section in the same order as they have been arranged in the back-end widget section …

If we reorganize the above widgets in the Sidebar Widget Area using drag and drop …

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

The widget features have now been reorganized in the sidebar …

As you can see, this immediately changes the layout of your site’s sidebar.

Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can improve your site’s user experience.

Note in the screenshot below that the ‘click to call’ function (3) is now the first item on the sidebar, and the support graphic button (2) can now be found above the newsletter opt-in form (1) …

(Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can help to improve user experience)

Deleting Widgets From The WordPress Sidebar

Removing widgets from your WordPress sidebar is very easy.

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

(WordPress Search widget)

To remove a widget from an active Widget area, you can either expand the widget settings and click the Delete link …

(Deleting your WP widget)

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

(How to remove your WordPress widgets)

Repeat this process for all widgets you want removed from your sidebar. You can always reinstate widgets by moving them back into the active widgets area.

Widget Settings

Most widgets can be customized. This includes hiding information from users (but allowing access 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 the widget …

(Toggle to expand/collapse widget settings)

When the widget expands, you can change and save your settings, delete the 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 something like an optional title …

(Some widgets provide users with little to no customizable options)

Previewing Your Widgets

Depending upon which WP theme you choose, you can also preview any changes live 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 your widget content will appear prior to publishing changes (to avoid making mistakes), or change widgets on the fly using the Widget editor area.

(Edit widgets live in the Customize section)

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

(Customize your site quickly)

This brings you to the Customizer feature in the backend.

You can do plenty of edits, modifications and adjustments in preview mode (like inserting, 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 the changes will be instantly updated and reflected on your site.

(Widget management – work in preview mode)

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

Because the theme you choose tend to affect how elements display on your site, we recommend that you install your theme first before configuring widgets.

Also, remember to use the Customizer feature to preview your changes. This will save you from having to keep two browsers open while you go through this tutorial.

Now that you know the basics of using widgets, it’s time to learn how to begin configuring various commonly-used WordPress sidebar widgets.


This is the end of part 1 of this series of tutorials on using WordPress widgets.

To keep reading, click this link:


"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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