How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

Learn how to add and configure various useful WordPress widgets on your sidebar and how to create custom sidebar widgets …

How To Add Widgets To The WordPress Blog SidebarIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part Three, we began configuring various commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we are going to complete this tutorial by learning how to configure a few more commonly-used widgets.

Important Info

In WordPress v. 4.8, WordPress introduced new media widgets covering images, audio, and video, and an updated text widget that supports visual editing

WordPress 4.8 - WordPress Widget Updates

(WordPress 4.8 introduced new widget updates)

These widgets let you add content from your media library and media stored in other servers or storage locations (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.).

Let’s go through how to configure and use each of these widgets:

Rich Text Widget

From version 4.8 onward, WordPress has added native rich-text editing capabilities to text widgets …

Rich Text Widget

(Rich Text Widget)

This lets you format text, create lists, add emphasis, and insert links into your sidebar text quickly and easily …

(Format text easily with the new text widget)

To learn more about using text widgets in WordPress, see the tutorial below:

WordPress Image Widget

The WordPress Image Widget lets you add an image to your sidebar from your Media Library or an external storage location.

To add an image, drag an image widget to your active widgets area …

Image Widget

(Image Widget)

Click on ‘Add Image’ …

Let's add an image!

(Let’s add an image!)

Select an image from the Image Library, check or add image details (e.g. Caption, Alt text, Description, etc.) if desired and click the ‘Add to Widget’ button …

Select an image

(Select an image)

The image will automatically load into the widget area …

Image added to widget

(Image added to widget)

Add a Title to your image if you want, or leave the ‘Title:’ field blank and click ‘Save’ …

Save your image

(Save your image)

Preview your website and you should see the image displayed where you have placed your image widget …

Image added to website using image widget

(Image added to website using WordPress image widget)

If you want to link your image to an URL, go back to your image widget and click on ‘Edit Image’ …

Image Widget - Edit Image

(Image Widget – Edit Image)

Add a URL in the ‘Image Details’ > ‘Display Settings’ > ‘Link To’ screen and click the ‘Update’ button …

Link your image to an URL

(Link your image to an URL)

To add an image stored in an external server or remote location, locate and copy the URL of the image to your clipboard …

Copy image URL to your clipboard

(Copy image URL to your clipboard)

Go back to your image widget and click on ‘Replace Image’ …

Image Widget - Replace image

(Image Widget – Replace image)

The Media Library browser opens. Click on ‘Insert from URL’ and paste in the image URL copied to your clipboard, then click on ‘Add to Widget’  …

Add image URL

(Add image URL)

If you have previously added an image title in your widget, remember to replace it if required, then click ‘Save’ …

Save your new image

(Save your new image)

The new image will now display on your sidebar …

New image added using WordPress image widget

(New image added using WordPress image widget)

To learn more about adding images to WordPress, see this tutorial:

WordPress Video Widget

The WordPress Video Widget lets you add audio files to your sidebar from your Media Library, YouTube, Vimeo, or an external storage location.

To add a video to the sidebar, drag a Video widget to your active widgets area …

Drag a Video widget to your sidebar

(Drag a Video widget to your sidebar)

Click the ‘Add Video’ button …

Video widget - Add Video

(Video widget – Add Video)

Select a video from your media library or add a video URL and click the ‘Add to Widget’ button …

Add a video URL

(Add a video URL)

Add a title to the widget if desired and click ‘Save’ …

WordPress Video Widget - Save Button

(WordPress Video Widget – Save Button)

Your video will display on your site where the video widget has been added …

Video added using WordPress video widget

(Video added using WordPress video widget)

To learn more about adding video to WordPress, see this tutorial:

WordPress Audio Widget

The WordPress Audio Widget lets you add audio files like podcasts, music or a personal greeting to your sidebar from your media library or an external storage location.

To add an audio file to your sidebar, drag an audio widget to your active widgets area …

Add an audio widget to your sidebar

(Add an audio widget to your sidebar)

Click the ‘Add Audio’ button…

WordPress Audio Widget - Add Audio button

(WordPress Audio Widget – Add Audio button)

Select an audio file from your media library or insert the URL of an audio file stored in an external location …

Select your audio file

(Select your audio file)

Add a title to your widget if desired and click the ‘Save’ button …

Save the audio file on your audio widget

(Save the audio file on your audio widget)

Your site will now display an audio file to visitors where you have placed the audio widget …

Audio file added to your site using the WordPress Audio Widget

(Audio file added to your site using the WordPress Audio Widget)

To learn more about adding audios to WordPress, see this tutorial:

Add An RSS Widget To Your Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar that will display news updates from An RSS feed.

To add the widget, find an RSS widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your sidebar area …

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Enter the RSS feed URL here.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add an optional widget feed, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many feed items you would like to show in your sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box to display the RSS feed content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to display the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to show the item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the ideal combination for you.

The screenshot below shows an RSS widget configured as per the above settings …

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar)

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured with other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

To learn more about using RSS feeds in WordPress, see this tutorial:

Add A Tag Cloud

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar that will display a list of tags.

Important Info

Tags appearing in the widget are managed in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

To use the widget, find a Tag Cloud widget in the Available Widgets section and drag it to your sidebar …

Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really very little to set up here. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when finished …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress tags)

The example below shows an Tag Cloud widget set for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying categories

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

To learn more about using post tags in WordPress, see this tutorial:

Configuring The Archives Widget In Your Blog Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is a common widget.

As you continue adding new posts to WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronology ladder and become less visible to users. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets your readers view WordPress posts that you may have published some time ago …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is not much to set up. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts published each month . Click Save when finished …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget configured to display posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

Archives widget added to sidebar

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar navigation area)

Now that you know how to configure a number of widgets, let’s explore some other areas of WordPress widgets.

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional things to know about widgets:

Add ‘Visibility’ Function To Widgets

Installing the Jetpack plugin not only adds many new widgets to your widgets area …

Jetpack Widgets

(Jetpack Widgets)

It also adds a useful ‘Visibility’ function to all WordPress widgets …

Jetpack adds 'Visibility' to all widgets

(Jetpack adds ‘Visibility’ to all widgets)

This function lets you specify whether to display or hide widgets from your sidebar based on conditions you set for a particular category, author, user. role, tag, date, or page …

Set conditions to show or hide widgets

(Set conditions to show or hide widgets)

This is a really useful function to have.

For example, you can:

  • Display a widget only on your home page or only on posts published under certain categories, tags, authors, dates, etc.
  • Configure widgets to display specific or time-sensitive announcements based on a post’s category, date, etc.
  • Configure widgets to display targeted ad banners based on a post’s category or tag.
  • Hide widgets from appearing on certain posts or pages to prevent users from being distracted (e.g. remove widgets with ads from your sales pages).
  • And more!

To learn more about using the Jetpack plugin, go here:

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets displaying on your site’s sidebar that aren’t showing up under your active sidebar inside the Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because with some themes, until you add widgets to your sidebar, the theme will display its own default set of widgets.

For example, the site below shows a couple of widgets in the sidebar section …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

If you look in the Widgets area, however, no widgets have actually been added to any of the active widget areas …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This theme could be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

Note: If you want no widgets to display in the sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar area.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

How To Override Default Widgets

And default widgets won’t show in your sidebar/footer section …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained earlier, with WordPress you can quickly rearrange how information displays in widgetized areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop technology …

Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can improve your site's visitor experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have easily change the widgets in the sidebar area by switching the search and testimonial sections. This is easily done by dragging and dropping the widget elements into different positions inside the sidebar widget area.

Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can help to improve your site’s user experience.

If, however, you find that you are unable to drag-and-drop widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), then you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of dragging and dropping.

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress dashboard and go to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

Click on Screen Options on the top right hand corner of the screen …

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Switch On accessibility mode)

Once the feature has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets section will display an Add link, and the widgets in the Active Widgets section will display an Edit link …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on a Widget’s Add link in the Available Widgets section …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the location to add the widget, plus drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click Save Widget to add the widget to the Active Widgets section, or click Cancel to go back to your previous screen …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen displays your selected widget with options for changing its settings.

Click Save Widget to update your settings and return to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to delete the widget from the Active Widgets section …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to restore the drag & drop function to your Widgets …

Disable accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Most of the widgets that you will use will either be installed by default when you create a new WordPress site, or be automatically added to your Available Widgets section by plugins that you install on your website.

Here is an easy way to create your own custom sidebar widget:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you would like to display in your sidebar…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you use are resized to fit the maximum width of the sidebar navigation menu. Also, keep in mind that there’s no a lot of room to put content on the blog sidebar, so keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we really want is to copy the code of the content to paste into a sidebar widget.

After writing your content, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

Insert a new Text widget into your sidebar, paste the content from your clipboard into the content field and click Save

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to the sidebar…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure a number of frequently-used sidebar widgets.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In The Sidebar

Subscribe below & receive 101+ useful WordPress tips that will help grow your business online faster ...

101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies

Get 101+ Powerful WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies ... 100% FREE!

Enter your details below and we'll send you 101+ useful WordPress tips, tricks and hacks directly to your inbox:

We will never SPAM you!

***

"Your training is the best in the world! It is simple, yet detailed, direct, understandable, memorable, and complete." Andrea Adams, FinancialJourney.org

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Build An e-Commerce Store With WordPressBuild An e-Commerce Store With WordPress

Learn how to set up an e-commerce store on your WordPress site using e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

More info: Build An e-Commerce Store With WordPress

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Install, Set Up & Use WordPress MultisiteHow To Install, Set Up & Use WordPress Multisite

Learn how to quickly and securely set up an online community of websites or blogs using the powerful WordPress Multisite feature.

More info: WordPress Multisite

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Add A WordPress Site To FacebookHow To Add A WordPress Site To Facebook

Learn how to add your WordPress site to Facebook. Learn how to obtain and set up a free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate for your WordPress site, how to change your site protocol from "http" to "https" (secure site) and how to set up a Facebook app and import your entire WordPress site into Facebook.

More info: How To Add A WordPress Site To Facebook

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Design, Develop & Sell WordPress ThemesHow To Design, Develop & Sell WordPress Themes

Learn how to design, develop, and sell your own WordPress Themes.

More info: How To Design, Develop & Sell WordPress Themes

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Set Up A Forum On WordPressHow To Set Up A Forum On WordPress

Learn how to set up a forum for your visitors, prospects, customers, members, or affiliates using WordPress.

More info: How To Set Up A Forum On WordPress

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Using S2 MemberUsing S2 Member

Learn how to set up and configure a WordPress membership site using the S2 Member free WordPress membership plugin.

More info: Using S2 Member

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Use FTPHow To Use FTP

This video course shows you how to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to transfer and upload files between your hard drive and your server using a free FTP program called Filezilla.

More info: How To Use FTP

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Using Layers WPUsing Layers WP

Learn how to use Layers WP, a powerful, flexible and user-friendly WordPress theme that lets you build professional and stunning websites easily using point-and-click.

More info: Using Layers WP

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Use CSSHow To Use CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) allows you to control how web pages and page elements display on your screen. This video course shows you how to use CSS.

More info: How To Use CSS

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Set Up WordPress On LocalhostHow To Set Up WordPress On Localhost

Learn how to install, set up, and locally host a fully functioning WordPress site on your computer.

More info: How To Set Up WordPress On Localhost

Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. 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 4.