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 Widgets To Your WordPress Sidebar SectionIn Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various sidebar widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we are going to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more frequently-used 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:

Add A Newsfeed To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

Let’s now add a widget to the sidebar that will display news items from RSS feeds.

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

RSS Widget

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

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

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

RSS Widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation section)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS 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:

Adding A Tag Cloud Widget To Your Blog Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to the sidebar that displays a tag list.

Info

Tags displayed in your widget are managed in the Tags screen …

Tags area

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s 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 …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag cloud displaying post tags

(Tag cloud displaying tags)

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

Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories)

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

Configure The Archives Widget In The Sidebar

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

As you continue adding new content to WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets blog visitors view dated posts …

WordPress Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There is really very little to configure. You can add a title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts published each month . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows a published Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

WordPress Archives widget displayed on sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget on blog sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional things to know about using WordPress widgets.

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

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

How To Override Default Widgets

If you look inside the Widgets section, however, you may find that no widgets have actually been added to the available widget areas …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

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

Note: If you don’t want anything to appear in your sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget …

Overriding Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have explained earlier, with WordPress you can easily and quickly reorder how content displays in widgetized areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop …

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve your site's user experience

(Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve visitor experience)

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

Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can help to improve user experience.

If, however, you find that you are unable to use the drag-and-drop function to move widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), then you can still work with 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 WordPress admin area and navigate to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(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 section will display an Add link, and the widgets in the Active Widgets section will display an Edit link …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display your selected widget with options for editing its settings.

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Disable accessibility mode

(Disable 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 section by plugins that you install on your website.

If you want to create a custom 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 display on your sidebar…

How To Create 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 you don’t have a lot of room to put content on the sidebar area, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we are after is the code of the content to paste into the sidebar widget.

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Next, go into your Widgets Area.

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget is now added to the sidebar navigation section…

How To Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

How To Add WordPress Widgets To The Site

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for 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.