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 Widgets In WordPressIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial series, 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 commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we explain how to complete the 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:

Adding A Newsfeed Section To Your WordPress Sidebar Navigation Area

Now, let’s add An RSS widget to the sidebar menu.

To add the widget, select 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 URL of your RSS feed into this section.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add a title to the feed, type it here.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many feed items you would like to display in your sidebar navigation menu from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you want to display the RSS feed 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 want to display the feed item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(RSS Widget on sidebar navigation section)

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

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud

Let’s add a widget to the sidebar section that will display tags.

Important

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

Tags area

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is not much to configure. 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 finished …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag cloud set to display post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget set up for showing Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure The WordPress Archives Section In The Sidebar

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

As you continue adding new content to WordPress, your older posts begin to get pushed further down the chronology ladder and become less visible to site visitors. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets visitors view WordPress posts that you may have published some months ago …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is not much to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar widget in a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows the Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

Archives widget displayed on sidebar area

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional things to know 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 Sidebar Widgets

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

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This is because the theme above is using default widgets.

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

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

Just add a blank text widget …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you previously, WordPress lets you quickly and easily rearrange how content is displayed in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site's user experience

(Rearranging sidebar elements using widgets can 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 widget elements 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), you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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 admin area and go to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

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 …

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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 the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click Save Widget to add the widget to your Active Widgets section, or 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 Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen displays the selected widget with options for changing its 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 …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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 when you install a new plugin on your site.

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

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

To get the content code, click on the Text tab …

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Now, go into your Widgets Screen.

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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget is now added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add Widgets To The WordPress Sidebar

Subscribe below & receive 101+ useful WordPress tips that will help grow your business online faster ...

101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies

Get 101+ Powerful WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies ... 100% FREE!

Enter your details below and we'll send you 101+ useful WordPress tips, tricks and hacks directly to your inbox:

We will never SPAM you!

***

"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Set Up WordPress On LocalhostHow To Set Up WordPress On Localhost

Learn how to install, set up, and locally host a fully functioning WordPress site on your computer.

More info: How To Set Up WordPress On Localhost

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Install, Set Up & Use WordPress MultisiteHow To Install, Set Up & Use WordPress Multisite

Learn how to quickly and securely set up an online community of websites or blogs using the powerful WordPress Multisite feature.

More info: WordPress Multisite

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Add A WordPress Site To FacebookHow To Add A WordPress Site To Facebook

Learn how to add your WordPress site to Facebook. Learn how to obtain and set up a free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate for your WordPress site, how to change your site protocol from "http" to "https" (secure site) and how to set up a Facebook app and import your entire WordPress site into Facebook.

More info: How To Add A WordPress Site To Facebook

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Set Up A Forum On WordPressHow To Set Up A Forum On WordPress

Learn how to set up a forum for your visitors, prospects, customers, members, or affiliates using WordPress.

More info: How To Set Up A Forum On WordPress

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Using S2 MemberUsing S2 Member

Learn how to set up and configure a WordPress membership site using the S2 Member free WordPress membership plugin.

More info: Using S2 Member

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Sell Online With PayPalSell Online With PayPal

This video course shows you how to set up PayPal on your website to receive payments online, with additional tips on using PayPal payment tools.

More info: Sell Online With PayPal

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Using Layers WPUsing Layers WP

Learn how to use Layers WP, a powerful, flexible and user-friendly WordPress theme that lets you build professional and stunning websites easily using point-and-click.

More info: Using Layers WP

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Use Amazon S3How To Use Amazon S3

Learn how to set up and use Amazon S3 to upload, store, manage, and protect your site’s images, large media files, downloadable files, stream videos and more.

More info: How To Use Amazon S3

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

Build A WordPress Site ... Fast!Build A WordPress Site ... Fast!

Need a new website or blog in a hurry?

This video course shows you how to quickly install and configure a WordPress website or blog on your own domain name and be up and running in no time!

More info: Build A WordPress Site ... Fast!

Recommended Video Courses For WordPress Users

How To Use FTPHow To Use FTP

This video course shows you how to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to transfer and upload files between your hard drive and your server using a free FTP program called Filezilla.

More info: How To Use FTP

Author: Martin Aranovitch

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.