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 SiteIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

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

In this final section, we explain how to complete the step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more frequently-used WordPress 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:

Add A Newsfeed Section

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 area …

WordPress RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget displayed on sidebar area)

The example below shows the RSS Feed widget configured using 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 To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to display clickable tags on your sidebar area.

Important

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

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really not much to configure. 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 menu …

Tag Cloud widget displaying tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post tags)

The screenshot below shows a published Tag Cloud widget set for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying categories

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

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

Configure The Archives Section In Your Sidebar Section

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

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

The Archives Widget lets your visitors view less visible posts …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really not much to configure in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar 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 show posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget on sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional features worth knowing 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:

Overriding Default Widgets

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

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This theme is obviously using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will disappear and be replaced with your selected widgets instead.

Note: If you want nothing to show up in your sidebar navigation menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar navigation section.

Just add a blank text widget …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you earlier, WordPress lets you quickly rearrange how content displays in widgetized areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help improve visitor experience

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have change the order of elements in the 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 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), then you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your administration area and go to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Enable accessibility mode

(Switch On 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a location to add the widget, with dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Disable 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 site.

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

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select everything inside your editor window and copy it to your clipboard…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

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

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget is now added to your sidebar navigation menu…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Using Widgets In WordPress

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