How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 3

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

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar AreaIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In this tutorial we will continue configuring other commonly-used WordPress widgets.

How To Add Categories

Now that you know how to set up a text widget containing a clickable support button, let’s configure a widget to display Categories on the sidebar menu.

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

WordPress Categories Widget

(Post Categories widget)

Practical Tip

your post categories …

Post Categories

(WordPress Categories)

Note: We are currently putting together tutorials on setting up and using categories in WordPress.

Configure your categories widget settings as shown below:

  • In Title: type something that your visitors will understand, like “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • Check Display as dropdown if you have too many categories (this significantly reduces the length of the widget content by displaying all categories in a drop-down menu). Leave the box unchecked if you want a list of all categories to display on the sidebar navigation area. (2)
  • You can 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 refresh the page to see how your sidebar categories will display to your visitors …

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar navigation section

(Categories widget added to sidebar)

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 option as is.
  • To display the number of posts published in each category on your site, enable 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 To Your Sidebar

The Recent Posts widget displays on the sidebar navigation menu by default. All you need to do is configure the widget.

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

Recent Posts widget

(Recent Posts widget)

There’s really not much to set up here. You can add a title, select the number of posts to display and opt to display post dates. If you’re happy with the default setting for Number of posts to show, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise enter a number of posts to show and click Save when done …

Recent Posts WordPress widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

Your most recent posts will now display to visitors on the sidebar …

Recent Posts widget added to sidebar

(Recent Posts widget displayed on sidebar)

How to create and edit WordPress Posts is explained here: How To Create A New WP Post

Add Links To Your Site’s Main Pages

Next, we’ll add a widget to your sidebar that links to the pages on your site.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

WordPress Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your active widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar menu

(Dragging and dropping a Pages widget into your sidebar menu)

The Pages widget lets you configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to display above your links (e.g. “Useful Pages“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or by page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Use this setting to hide pages on your sidebar navigation area (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 another option, then select a different method in the Sort by: drop-down menu …

WordPress Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sorting options)

To exclude certain pages from showing on your widget, type in the Page Ids for the pages you want excluded separated by commas into the Exclude field …

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – exclude pages)

For a step-by-step tutorial about how to find a WordPress post or page ID, go here: How To Locate The ID Of Any WordPress Page Or Post

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

Links to the main pages will now appear on your sidebar …

WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar)

Practical Tip

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

Add Links To The Blog Sidebar

Now, we’ll add a widget to the WordPress sidebar navigation menu for displaying links to external resources.

Before adding a Links widget to the sidebar, we recommend configuring your Links feature inside the dashboard first …

WordPress Links screen

(WordPress Links section)

Note: We plan to create separate tutorials on setting up and using the Links feature in WordPress.

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

Links Widget

(Links Widget)

Drag the widget to your sidebar …

Making 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 …

Links Widget Settings

(Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to the sidebar 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 The Sidebar Menu

(Add Multiple Links Widgets To The Sidebar Area)

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

(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 …

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

( 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 the sidebar …

Links added to sidebar navigation section

(External links added to WordPress sidebar)

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

How To Use Widgets In WordPress

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This is the end of section three of this tutorial about how to use Widgets.

Click on this link to read the rest of this tutorial series:

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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.