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 …

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your SidebarIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part Three, we began configuring various widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we will conclude the step-by-step tutorial series by learning how to configure a few more useful widgets.

Important 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 A Newsfeed Section To The Sidebar

Let’s now add An RSS widget to the sidebar.

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar)

The screenshot below shows an RSS Feed widget configured using some of the other options selected …

RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Widget To Your WordPress Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to your sidebar that displays clickable tags.

Useful Information

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget can be found in the Tags panel …

WordPress Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is not much to configure in this widget. You can add a title, 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 navigation area …

Tag cloud displaying post tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying post tags)

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

Tag cloud displaying WordPress post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress post categories)

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

Configuring Your Archives Section

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

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

The Archives Widget lets readers view older published WordPress posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is very little to set up. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your Archives widget as a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts published each month . Click Save when finished …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget configured to show posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget on sidebar area

(Archives Widget added to sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure most of the frequently-used widgets on your WordPress site, let’s explore some other aspects of WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful ways to use 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:

Override Default Widgets

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

For example, the site below shows a couple of widgets in the sidebar …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

This theme could be using default widgets.

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

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

Add a blank text widget to a widget area …

Overriding Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have explained earlier, with WordPress you can quickly rearrange how content is displayed in areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve visitor experience

(Rearranging sidebar layout with widgets can help improve user experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily rearranged 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.

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help improve your site’s user experience.

If, however, you find that you are unable to use the drag & drop function to move widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), then you can still use widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via the Screen Options, allows you to 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

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Turn on accessibility mode

(Enable accessibility mode)

Once the feature has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets section will display an Add link, and the widgets in the Active Widgets section will display an Edit link …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a location to add the widget, with drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in the selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “4”, etc.) …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays your selected widget with options for modifying its settings.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Turn 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 when you install a new plugin on your website.

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

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you want to show on your sidebar…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

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

After composing your content, switch to the Text tab …

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new custom widget will be added to your sidebar…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add Widgets To WordPress

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"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.
Originally published as How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4.