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 WordPress Widgets To The SidebarIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, we explained how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various commonly-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

In this final section, we explain how to complete the tutorial by learning how to configure a few more commonly-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

Important

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:

Adding A Newsfeed

Let’s now add An RSS widget to your sidebar section.

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: Paste the URL of your RSS feed here.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add an optional widget title, enter it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of items you would like to show on the sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box to show the feed item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to display the RSS feed item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the combination that best suits your needs.

The screenshot below shows the RSS Feed widget configured using the above settings …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar menu)

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Widget

Now, let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to the sidebar.

Useful Information

Tags appearing in your Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags section …

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s not much to set up. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when done …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget set to display tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget set to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories)

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

Configure The Archives Section In Your Blog Sidebar

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 chronological ladder and become less visible to readers. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets blog readers access WordPress posts that you may have published a while back …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s very little to set up. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar as a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget on sidebar

(Archives Widget on sidebar area)

Now that you know how to configure various widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other useful ways to use WordPress widgets.

Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful 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:

Override Default Widgets

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

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

How To Override Default Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

This theme may be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with your selected widgets instead.

Note: If you don’t want anything to display in the sidebar area, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve visitor experience

(Rearrange sidebar elements with widgets to improve user experience)

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

You can reorganize your sidebar elements using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, however, you find that you cannot move widgets around using drag and drop (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), then you can still use widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your dashboard and go to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Turn on 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 Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the location to add the widget, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to restore the drag-and-drop functionality to your Widgets …

Switch off accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom 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 when you install a new plugin 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 your sidebar navigation section…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Make sure 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 your blog sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we really want is the content HTML so we can paste it into the widget.

After composing your content, click on the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select everything in the text editor window and copy it to your clipboard…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Screen.

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget will be added to your sidebar area…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

Congratulations! Now you know how to use and configure several frequently-used WordPress sidebar widgets.

Adding WordPress Widgets To The Sidebar Area

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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 4.