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 And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your WebsiteIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring various frequently-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, you are going to conclude the step-by-step tutorial by learning how to configure a few more useful widgets.

Useful Information

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 An RSS Widget To The WordPress Sidebar

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar navigation section that displays news items from RSS feeds.

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

RSS Widget

(WordPress 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 title to your widget, enter it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many RSS feed items you want to show on your sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box if you would like to show the item content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want 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.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

The screenshot below shows an RSS Feed widget configured with the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar section)

The example below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured with some of the 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 To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to the sidebar.

Important Info

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

WordPress Tags area

(Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really 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 finished …

Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar navigation area …

Tag Cloud widget set to display tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display tags)

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

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Section

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

As you continue publishing new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronological ladder and become less visible to site users. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows your visitors to access earlier content …

WordPress Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really very little to set up here. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your Archives widget in 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 an Archives widget configured to display posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget displayed on sidebar

(Archives Widget on sidebar)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional features of 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 WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Overriding Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

This is because the theme above may be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the placeholder widgets will your new widgets will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget …

How To Override Default Widgets

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

Override Default Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have explained previously, WordPress lets you easily and quickly rearrange how content is displayed in areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

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

(Rearrange sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily change the layout in the site’s sidebar by switching 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 rearrange your sidebar elements with widgets to improve your site’s 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), then you can still work with widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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 dashboard and navigate to the Widgets section …

Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Turn on accessibility mode

(Enable accessibility mode)

Once accessibility mode 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 …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

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.

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

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

After creating your content, switch to the Text tab …

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

How To Create 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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new 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 your sidebar widgets.

Adding And Configuring Widgets On Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Section

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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.