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 Use Widgets In WordPressIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In this section we are going to show you how to configure other commonly-used widgets.

Add Categories To Your Sidebar Area

Now that you know how to configure a text widget containing a support button, let’s configure a widget to display Post Categories on the sidebar section.

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

WordPress Categories Widget

(WordPress Post Categories widget)

Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to your sidebar section, you will first need to configure the Categoriessection inside your WordPress dashboard …

Categories

(WordPress Categories Screen)

Note: Configuring and using categories in WordPress will be covered in other tutorials.

Configure the Categories settings for this widget as described below:

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

Configuring a WordPress Categories Widget

(WordPress Categories widget settings)

Load the site in your web browser or refresh the page to see how your Categories widget will look to 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 Recent Posts

The Recent Posts widget normally appears in your sidebar navigation menu by default. All you need to do is configure your widget.

Click on its title bar to configure its settings …

Recent Posts widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There is really not much to configure. You can add a title, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you’re happy 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

Recent Posts widget settings

(Recent Posts widget settings)

Your most recent posts will display on the sidebar navigation section …

Recent Posts widget displayed on sidebar

(Recent Posts WordPress widget added to sidebar)

A step-by-step tutorial is provided on creating posts in WordPress here: How To Create A Post In WordPress

Add A Pages Widget To The Blog Sidebar

Next, let’s add a widget to your sidebar to display the pages on your site.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

WordPress Pages Widget

(WordPress Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your widget section …

Adding a Pages widget to the sidebar

(Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar area)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to display above your links (e.g. “Site Information“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or by page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Prevent pages from appearing on the sidebar (3) …

Pages Widget settings

(WordPress 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 choose a different method from the Sort by: drop-down menu …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sort options)

To exclude certain pages from showing to your visitors, just paste in their Page Ids separated by commas into the Exclude field of the widget …

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(Pages Widget settings – exclude pages)

A tutorial is provided on how to find a post or page ID in WordPress here: Finding WordPress Post And Page IDs

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

Links to your site’s main pages will now display on your sidebar section …

Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar)

Useful Tip

Tip: You can add multiple Pages widgets to your sidebar navigation section. This is helpful if you would like to display separate page groups on your sidebar section (e.g. “Products”, “Legal Pages” etc.)

Add A Links Widget

Now, let’s add a widget to your WordPress sidebar that displays links to external resources.

Before adding a Links widget to your sidebar, you should first configure your Links feature inside the dashboard …

WordPress Links screen

(WordPress Links screen)

Note: Configuring the Links feature in WordPress will be covered in separate tutorials.

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

WordPress Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the Links widget to your sidebar area …

Make Links Widget active

(Making Links Widget active)

The 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 the sidebar section …

WordPress Links Widget Settings

(WordPress Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to your sidebar navigation menu 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 Area

(Add Multiple WordPress Links Widgets To The Sidebar Menu)

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

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

(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 …

Links added to WordPress sidebar menu

(External links added to WordPress sidebar)

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 the WordPress sidebar.

How To Add And Configure Widgets In Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

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This is the end of section three of this tutorial.

To view the rest of this tutorial, click here: Adding WordPress Widgets To Your Sidebar Navigation Area – Part Four

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for non-techies and beginners. WPCompendium.org provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!

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