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 Your WordPress SidebarIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use WordPress widgets and in Part 2, we explained how to configure a text widget.

In Part 3, we began configuring a number of default widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, you are going to how to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring a few more useful sidebar 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 An RSS Widget To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

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

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

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

RSS Widget settings

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different settings to find the combination that works best for you.

The example below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured as per the settings shown above …

RSS Widget on sidebar

(WordPress RSS Widget added to sidebar navigation menu)

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured using other options selected …

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(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 display a tag list on the sidebar navigation menu.

Info

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

Tags area

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s very little 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 …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

Tag Cloud widget displaying tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

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

Tag cloud set to display WordPress post categories

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure Your WordPress Archives Widget

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

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

The Archives Widget allows your blog visitors to view less visible content …

Archives Widget

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is really not much to set up in this widget. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the Archives widget in a dropdown menu, and show post counts . Click Save when done …

Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget set up for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

WordPress Archives widget on blog sidebar

(WordPress Archives Widget displayed on sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure various widgets in WordPress, let’s explore some other areas of WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional features worth knowing about WordPress widgets.

How To Override Default Sidebar Widgets

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

For example, this site displays widgets in the sidebar section …

Overriding Default Widgets

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

How To Override Default Widgets

This theme is obviously using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will your new 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 your sidebar.

Add a blank text widget …

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Sidebar Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you earlier, WordPress lets you completely reorder how information displays in areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can help improve visitor experience

(Rearranging sidebar layout using widgets can improve visitor experience)

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

Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can help to improve visitor experience.

If, however, 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.

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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 WordPress admin and go to Appearance > Widgets

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

WordPress Widgets - Screen Options

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

Turn on accessibility mode

(Turn on 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 …

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting a widget location, and drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “5”, etc.) …

How To 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 …

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen displays the selected widget with options for modifying 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 section …

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

Disable accessibility mode

(Switch off accessibility mode)

Creating 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 when you install a new plugin on your website.

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

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

Creating 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 put content on your blog sidebar, so keep your information concise.

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

To get the content code, switch to the Text tab …

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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

How To Create Your Own 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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your new widget will be added to the sidebar…

Create Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

Configuring Widgets On Your Sidebar

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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 detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress to grow your business online at minimal cost with no coding skills required!

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