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.

How To Add Widgets To WordPressIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, we explained how to configure a text widget.

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

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

Add A Newsfeed Section

Let’s add An RSS widget to display news items on your sidebar navigation menu.

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

WordPress RSS Widget

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

WordPress RSS Widget settings

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the combination that suits your preferences best.

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

RSS Widget on sidebar

(RSS Widget displayed on sidebar navigation section)

The example below shows an RSS widget configured using some of the 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

Now, 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 area …

Tags screen

(Tags screen)

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

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really very little to set up. 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 done …

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on the sidebar menu …

Tag cloud displaying WordPress tags

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress tags)

The example below shows a published Tag Cloud widget configured to show Categories instead of Tags

Tag Cloud widget displaying categories

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories)

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

Configure The Archives Widget In Your Blog Sidebar

To complete this tutorial, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is another common 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 visitors. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget allows visitors to access dated WordPress posts …

Archives Widget

(Archives Widget)

There’s really very little to set up here. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts published each month . Click Save when done …

WordPress Archives Widget settings

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set up to display posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

Archives widget displayed on sidebar navigation area

(WordPress Archives Widget displayed on sidebar navigation area)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional features of 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 Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets appearing on your site’s sidebar menu that aren’t listed in your 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 menu.

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

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Overriding Default Widgets

This theme is obviously using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will your newly-added widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you want no widgets to show up in the sidebar section, 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 …

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

Override Default Widgets

Accessibility Mode

As we have explained in an earlier example, with WordPress you can completely rearrange how information displays in widgetized 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 elements using widgets to improve visitor experience

(Rearranging sidebar elements with widgets can improve your site’s visitor experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily rearranged the site’s sidebar 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 reorganize 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), then you can still work with widgets if you enable Accessibility Mode.

Enable Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress administration area and navigate to the Widgets section …

WordPress Widgets Menu

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

Widgets - Screen Options

(WordPress 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 and the Active Widgets sections, widgets will display an Add and Edit link respectively …

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, with drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

Enabling Accessibility Mode For Widgets

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 WordPress Widgets

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress 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)

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 widgets, then here is an easy way:

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

Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

Creating Your Own Sidebar Widgets

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

Creating Your Own 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

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets

Your custom widget is now added to your sidebar navigation area…

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

How To Use Widgets In WordPress

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