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 The WordPress Sidebar AreaIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring a number of frequently-used widgets.

In this final section, we will complete this tutorial by configuring a few more frequently-used WordPress sidebar 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:

Adding A Newsfeed

Let’s add An RSS widget to the sidebar navigation menu.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the RSS feed URL here.
  2. Feed Title: If you would like to add an optional title to the feed, type it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of RSS feed items you want to show in your sidebar from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box 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: Check this box if you would like to show the feed item item date.

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

The screenshot below shows the RSS widget configured with 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 To Your WordPress Sidebar

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

Useful Information

Tags displayed in the Tag Cloud widget are managed in the Tags panel …

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s not much to set up. 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

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags

(Tag cloud displaying tags)

The example below shows a published Tag Cloud widget configured for displaying Categories instead of Tags

Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post categories)

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

Configuring Your WordPress Archives Widget In The Sidebar Section

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

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

The Archives Widget lets your visitors access older WordPress posts …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s really very little to set up. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your Archives widget in a dropdown menu, and display post counts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget set up for showing posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget displayed on sidebar

(Archives Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure a number of widgets, let’s explore some other areas of 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 Widgets

If you see widgets showing up on your site’s sidebar that aren’t showing up under your active sidebar in the 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, this site displays widgets in the sidebar area …

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

This is because the above theme is using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will disappear and the widgets you want added will be used instead.

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

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have shown you earlier, WordPress lets you easily rearrange how information displays in widgetized areas of your site sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop …

Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can improve user experience

(Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can improve visitor experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have easily redesigned the layout in 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.

You can reorganize your sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, however, you find that you are unable to use drag-and-drop 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.

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your administration area and go to Appearance > Widgets

Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

Enable accessibility mode

(Switch On 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 …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting the location to add the widget, with drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “4”, etc.) …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen will display your selected widget with options for modifying the widget’s settings.

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

Turn off accessibility mode

(Switch off 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 new plugins on your website.

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

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

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

After writing your content, click on the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

Now, 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 Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to the sidebar navigation menu…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

Adding Widgets To The WordPress Blog Sidebar Navigation Area

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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