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 Configure Widgets On The SidebarIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In this section you will learn how to configure other default WordPress blog widgets.

How To Add Categories

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

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

Categories Widget

(WordPress Post Categories widget)

Practical Tip

Before adding a Categories widget to the sidebar, we recommend first configuring the Categoriesfeature inside the WP dashboard …

Post Categories

(WordPress Categories Panel)

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

Configure the Categories settings for your widget as shown below:

  • In Title: type something that will make sense to visitors, for example, “Choose A Topic…” (1)
  • If you have too many categories, check Display as dropdown (this significantly reduces the length of the 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)
  • You can leave the remaining options as the default, or see the additional notes on configuring this widget below.
  • Click Save to update your settings …

WordPress Categories Widget settings

(WordPress Categories widget settings)

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

WordPress Categories widget added to sidebar

(Categories widget added to sidebar)

Practical 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 unticked.
  • 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 The Sidebar Menu

The Recent Posts widget is added to the sidebar section 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 is really very little to configure. You can add a title if you want, select the number of posts to display and display post dates. If you’re happy to use the default setting for Number of posts to show, then just leave the widget as is, otherwise enter the number of posts to show and click Save

Recent Posts widget settings

(Recent Posts WordPress widget settings)

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

Recent Posts widget added to blog sidebar

(Recent Posts widget displayed on sidebar)

To learn how to create and edit WordPress Posts, see this tutorial: How To Create A New Post In WordPress

Add Links To Your Site’s Main Pages In Your Sidebar Navigation Area

Next, let’s add a widget to your sidebar for listing pages.

Find a Pages widget in the Available Widgets section …

WordPress Pages Widget

(Pages Widget)

Drag the Pages widget to your widget area …

Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar menu

(Adding a Pages widget to your sidebar navigation menu)

The Pages widget allows you to configure the following options:

  • Title: Add a title to display above your links (e.g. “Pages“) (1)
  • Sort by: Sort how your pages display: by title (i.e. alphabetically), by page order, or page ID. (2)
  • Exclude: Hide selected pages on the sidebar section (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 select a different method from the Sort by: drop-down menu …

Pages Widget settings - sort options

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – sort options)

To exclude pages from showing on your sidebar, type in the Page Ids for all the pages you want to exclude separated by commas into the Exclude field …

Pages Widget settings - exclude pages

(WordPress Pages Widget settings – excluding pages by ID)

For a tutorial on how to find a WordPress page ID, go here: How To Locate The Unique ID Of Posts And Pages In WordPress

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

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

WordPress Pages Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Pages Widget on sidebar)

Practical Tip

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

Add A Links Widget

Now, let’s add a widget to the sidebar for displaying links to external resources.

Before adding the Links widget to the sidebar area, we first recommend configuring your Links section inside the WordPress dashboard …

WordPress Links section

(WordPress Links section)

Note: We plan to create a separate step-by-step tutorial if you need help on how to configure and use Links.

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

WordPress Links Widget

(WordPress Links Widget)

Drag the Links widget to your sidebar …

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 the sidebar …

Links Widget Settings

(WordPress Links Widget Settings)

You can add as many separate ‘Link Widgets’ to your 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 Links Widgets To The Sidebar

(Add Multiple Links Widgets To Your Sidebar Menu)

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

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

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

When you have finished configuring the Links Widget, click the Save button …

Links added to sidebar

(Links added to 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 link lists to your WordPress sidebar section.

How To Add Widgets To Your WordPress Sidebar Section

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

To keep reading, click here:

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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 detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress to grow your business online at minimal cost with no coding skills required!

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