How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

Learn how to add and configure a number of useful widgets on your WordPress sidebar.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your WebsiteIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In this tutorial we will continue configuring other sidebar widgets.

How To Add Post Categories

Now that you know how to set up a text widget containing a clickable contact button, let’s configure a widget to display Categories on your sidebar navigation section.

The Categories widget already displays on your sidebar menu by default. Place this widget wherever you want your post categories to display by clicking and dragging it in the sidebar area …

WordPress Post Categories Widget

(Categories widget)

Useful Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to the sidebar, we recommend setting up the Post Categoriessection inside the dashboard …

WordPress Post Categories

(Categories)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on using post categories in WordPress.

Let’s configure the Categories settings for your widget as described below:

  • In Title: type something that will make sense to visitors, like “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • If you have too many categories, check Display as dropdown (this significantly reduces the length of the widget content by displaying all categories inside a drop-down menu). If you plan to publish posts under a few categories only, then leave the Display as dropdown box unticked. (2)
  • Leave the remaining options as the default, or see the additional notes on configuring the Categories widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

Configuring a WordPress Categories Widget

(Configuring a Categories widget)

Click Visit Site or reload the page to see how your content will display to your blog readers …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar

(Categories widget added to sidebar)

Useful Tip

Tips:

  • Change the default Uncategorized post category to something more meaningful.
  • If you use nested categories on your site, you may want to check the Show hierarchy box, otherwise leave this box unchecked.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category, tick the Show post counts check box …

Category widget options - Post Count Enabled vs Post Count Disabled

(Category widget options – Post Count Enabled vs Post Count Disabled)

Add A Recent Posts Section

The Recent Posts widget displays in the sidebar by default. All you need to do is configure this widget.

Click on the widget title bar to display the configuration settings …

Recent Posts WordPress widget

(Recent Posts WordPress widget)

There is really not much to set up in this widget. You can add a title if you want, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you want to use the default Number of posts to show setting, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise enter the number of posts to show and click Save when done …

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

The number of posts you’ve specified will now display to visitors on the sidebar section …

Recent Posts WordPress widget displayed on sidebar

(Recent Posts WordPress widget on sidebar)

How to create and edit WordPress Posts is covered here: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Adding Links To Your Site’s Main Pages In The Sidebar

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar navigation menu for listing pages.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar

(Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into the sidebar)

The Pages widget allows you to configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to display above your links (e.g. “Site Info“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Use this setting to prevent pages from showing on your sidebar (3) …

WordPress Pages Widget settings

(Pages Widget settings)

By default, pages are displayed by title in alphabetical order. If you want to display pages using one of the other options, then select a different method from the Sort by: drop-down menu …

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(Pages Widget settings – item sorting options)

To prevent certain pages from displaying in the widget, just type or paste in their Page Ids separated by commas into the Exclude field …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(Pages Widget settings – excluding pages)

For a step-by-step tutorial on how to find a WordPress page ID, go here: Finding The WP Page Or Post ID

Click the Save button when finished and then click Close at the bottom of the widget box to minimize the widget.

Links to the blog’s pages will now show on your sidebar navigation menu …

Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar)

Useful Tip

Tip: You can add multiple Pages widgets to the sidebar. This is useful if you need to display different page groups on the sidebar (e.g. “Products”, “Legal Pages” etc.)

Add Links To Your Blog Sidebar

Now, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar for displaying external links (e.g. to useful resources, affiliate links, etc).

Before adding the Links widget to your sidebar, we recommend first setting up your Links section inside the dashboard …

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links section)

Note: Using WordPress Links will be covered in other tutorials.

To add the widget, select a Links widget in the Available Widgets section …

Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the Links widget to your sidebar area …

Making Links Widget active

(Making Links Widget active)

The Links widget offers a number of configurable options, including the ability to specify what information to show about your links and how many links you want to display on your sidebar navigation section …

Links Widget Settings

(Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to the sidebar section as you want. As you will see in a moment, this lets you create and display specific lists of links on your site …

Add Multiple WordPress Links Widgets To Your Sidebar

(Add Multiple WordPress Links Widgets To The Sidebar)

You can sort links by Link title, Link rating, Link ID, or display links in Random order …

Links widget: 'Sort by:' drop-down menu

(WordPress Links widget: ‘Sort by:’ drop-down menu)

You can also create and display a list of items for a specific category, by selecting a link category from the ‘Select Link Category’ drop-down menu …

Links widget: 'Select Link Category' drop-down menu

( WordPress Links widget: ‘Select Link Category’ drop-down menu)

When you have finished configuring your Links Widget, click the Save button. Your links will display immediately on your site …

Links added to sidebar navigation area

(External links added to sidebar menu)

As the above example shows, you can display specific external links to your site visitors (e.g. a list for a specific link category only), and add multiple lists of links to your WordPress sidebar section.

Adding Widgets To The Sidebar Navigation Section

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This is the end of part three of this tutorial series.

Click here to access Part Four:

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3.