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 …

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

How To Configure WordPress Widgets On The Blog SidebarIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring various default sidebar widgets.

In this final section, we show you how to complete the step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more frequently-used widgets.

Useful 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 A Newsfeed Section To Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Menu

Now, let’s add An RSS widget to the sidebar.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the ideal combination for your site.

The screenshot below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured as per the above settings …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar)

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

Now, let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to display tags on the sidebar menu.

Info

Tags displayed in the Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags area …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really not much to set up in this widget. You can add a widget 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 navigation menu …

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags)

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

Tag Cloud widget displaying categories

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Widget

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is a common WordPress 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 readers. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets blog readers access your previously published WordPress posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s not much to set up here. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the Archives widget in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget configured for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget on sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other aspects of using WordPress widgets.

Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful ways to use WordPress 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:

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, this site displays some widgets in the blog sidebar …

Overriding Default Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets section, however, no widgets have actually been added to the available widget areas …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

The theme above is obviously using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will your selected widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you don’t want anything to show up in your sidebar section, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar navigation section.

Just add a blank text widget …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, WordPress lets you quickly and easily reorder how content is displayed in areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop technology …

Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site's visitor experience

(Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily redesigned the sidebar section 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.

You can rearrange your sidebar elements with widgets to improve user experience.

If, however, you find that you cannot move widgets using drag-and-drop (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), 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 admin area and navigate to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

Select Screen Options on the top right hand corner of your screen …

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Turn on accessibility mode)

Once accessibility mode 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 WordPress Widgets

If you click on a Widget’s Add link in the Available Widgets section …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, with dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

A screen will display your selected widget with options for changing the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to return to the Active Widgets screen, or click the Delete button to remove the widget from the Active Widgets area …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to go back to using drag-and-drop …

Turn off accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets – A Simple Cheat

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

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you want to add to the sidebar…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Ensure that any images you plan to use fit the maximum width of your sidebar. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to add content on the blog sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we really need is the content HTML to be pasted into a widget.

After creating your content, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Now, 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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget is now added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure various WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Blog

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For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.
Originally published as How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4.