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.

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

In Part Three, we began configuring various frequently-used sidebar widgets.

In this final section, you are going to conclude this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more useful WordPress sidebar 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:

Adding A Newsfeed

Now, let’s add An RSS widget to display news items on the sidebar navigation section.

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

WordPress 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 a widget feed, enter it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Choose the number of RSS feed items to display on the sidebar section from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box to display the feed item content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you want to display the RSS feed item date.

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured using the above settings …

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS widget configured with other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Widget To Your Blog Sidebar

Now, let’s add a widget to your sidebar that will display a list of tags.

Useful Information

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

Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little to set up here. 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 your sidebar area …

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags

(Tag cloud set to display post tags)

The example below shows a published Tag Cloud widget configured to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying post categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring Your Archives Section

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

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

The Archives Widget allows readers to view previously published WordPress posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s not much to configure. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar in a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget set for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget added to sidebar area

(Archives Widget on sidebar)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful features of widgets.

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets section, however, you will see that no widgets have been added to any of the active widget areas …

How To Override Default Widgets

This theme is probably using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with your newly-added widgets instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default Widgets

And the default widgets will not display in the sidebar/footer section …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained earlier, WordPress lets you completely reorder how content displays in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

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

(Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily redesigned the site’s sidebar menu 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 visitor 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 work with widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

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

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 …

Enable accessibility mode

(Enable 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 link respectively …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To 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 widget area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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 WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen displays the selected widget with options for editing its settings.

Click Save Widget to 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 function to your Widgets …

Turn off accessibility mode

(Switch 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 area when you install a new plugin on your website.

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you would like to show on your sidebar menu…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Once you have created your content in the WordPress post editor, switch to the Text tab …

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own 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

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to your sidebar navigation menu…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your Website

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for non-techies and beginners. WPCompendium.org provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!