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.

Using WidgetsIn Part One of this tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

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

In this final installment, you are going to conclude the step-by-step tutorial by configuring a few more useful widgets.

Useful 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 To Your WordPress Blog Sidebar

Let’s now add An RSS widget to display news items on your sidebar.

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

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar area)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS widget configured using 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:

Adding A Tag Cloud Section To The Sidebar Section

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

Important

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

WordPress Tags screen

(WordPress Tags area)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar menu …

Tag cloud set to display WordPress tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget configured to display Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud displaying WordPress post categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring The WordPress Archives Widget

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is a commonly-used 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 lets your blog visitors view less visible content …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really very little to set up. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when finished …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

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

Archives widget on sidebar area

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar section)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional things to know about WordPress widgets.

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, this site displays widgets in the sidebar …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

This theme is probably using default widgets.

As soon as 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 want no widgets to show up in your sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar navigation section.

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained in an earlier example, WordPress lets you quickly and easily reorganize how information displays in areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop technology …

Rearrange sidebar layout using widgets to improve user experience

(Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help improve your site’s visitor experience)

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

You can rearrange your sidebar elements using widgets to improve user experience.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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 WordPress admin and navigate to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Switch On 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 Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

If you 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 widget location, plus drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in the selected location (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 …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays 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 …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on Disable accessibility mode in the Screen Options section to go back to using drag-and-drop …

Switch off accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets – A Simple Cheat

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 by plugins that you install on your website.

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

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

After creating your content, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

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 Sidebar Widgets

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To The Sidebar

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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!

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