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 …

Adding WordPress Widgets To The BlogIn Part 1 of this step-by-step 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 a number of frequently-used WordPress blog widgets.

In this final section, we are going to conclude the tutorial series by configuring a few more frequently-used WordPress widgets.

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

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress 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 want to add an optional widget feed, enter it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of items to show in the sidebar navigation menu from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box if you would like to display the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box to show the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you would like to display the RSS feed item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the combination that works best for you.

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

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar)

The screenshot below shows an RSS Feed widget configured using additional options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Section To Your Sidebar

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

Useful Info

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

Tags area

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

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 …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar area …

Tag cloud displaying WordPress post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post tags)

The example below shows the Tag Cloud widget configured to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories)

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

How To Configure Your Archives Section

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the default Archives Widget, which is a commonly-used widget.

As you continue publishing new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets site readers access previously published posts …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is very little to configure in this widget. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the Archives widget in a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget on sidebar

(Archives Widget added to sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure your default sidebar widgets, let’s explore some other useful things about using WordPress widgets.

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional things to know about using 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:

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets showing up on your site’s sidebar menu that aren’t listed in the active sidebar in your Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because some themes will display their own default set of widgets unless you add widgets to the sidebar.

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

This is because the above theme is probably using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will your new widgets will be used instead.

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

Add a blank text widget …

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have explained in an earlier example, with WordPress you can easily and quickly rearrange how information displays in widgetized areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can improve your site's user experience

(Reorganizing sidebar layout using widgets can help to improve your site’s user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily reorganized the site’s 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.

Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help improve user experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you cannot move widgets using drag & drop (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still work with widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via the Screen Options, allows you to use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag & drop.

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

Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

Enable accessibility mode

(Switch On accessibility mode)

Once the feature has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets and the Active Widgets sections, widgets will display an Add and Edit links respectively …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a widget location, and drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display the 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 remove 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

(Turn off accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets – An Easy Cheat

Most widgets 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 new plugins on your site.

If you want to create your own custom sidebar widgets, then here is a really simple and easy way:

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you want to add to your sidebar section…

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

To get the content code, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, 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…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar

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"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

Originally published as How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4.