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How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

In Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, we explained how to configure text widgets.

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

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

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 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)

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)

Click on ‘Add 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)

The image will automatically load into the widget area …

(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)

Preview your website and you should see the image displayed where you have placed your 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)

Add a URL in the ‘Image Details’ > ‘Display Settings’ > ‘Link To’ screen and click the ‘Update’ button …

(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)

Go back to your image widget and click on ‘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)

If you have previously added an image title in your widget, remember to replace it if required, then click ‘Save’ …

(Save your new image)

The new image will now display on your sidebar …

(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)

Click the ‘Add Video’ button …

(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 title to the widget if desired and click ‘Save’ …

(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)

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)

Click the ‘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)

Add a title to your widget if desired and click the ‘Save’ button …

(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)

To learn more about adding audios to WordPress, see this tutorial:

Adding A Newsfeed To The Sidebar Navigation Section

Let’s now add a widget to display news items on the sidebar.

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

(RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

The screenshot below shows the RSS widget configured using the settings shown above …

(RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS widget configured using additional options selected …

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Widget

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

Tags appearing in your Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags panel …

(Tags screen)

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

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is 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)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar navigation area …

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress post tags)

The screenshot below shows an Tag Cloud widget set up to display Categories instead of Tags

(Tag cloud set to display post categories)

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

Configuring The Archives Section

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

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

The Archives Widget lets your visitors access less visible WordPress posts …

(WordPress Archives Widget)

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

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget configured for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with post counts checkbox enabled …

(Archives Widget displayed on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure various 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:

Add ‘Visibility’ Function To Widgets

Installing the Jetpack plugin not only adds many new widgets to your widgets area …

(Jetpack Widgets)

It also adds a useful ‘Visibility’ function to all WordPress 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)

This is a really useful function to have.

For example, you can:

To learn more about using the Jetpack plugin, go here:

Override Default Widgets

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

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

If you look in the Widgets area, however, you may find that no widgets have been added to the active widget areas …

This theme is probably using default widgets.

As soon as you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the placeholder widgets will disappear and be replaced with the newly-added widgets instead.

Note: If you want no widgets to display in the sidebar area, 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 …

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

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you previously, WordPress lets you quickly and easily reorganize how information displays in areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop technology …

(Rearrange sidebar elements using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience)

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

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

If, for some reason, you find that you are unable to drag & drop widgets around (e.g. using a mobile device that doesn’t support dragging-and-dropping), you can still use widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

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

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance > Widgets

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable 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 …

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

A screen opens up the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s 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”, “2”, “5”, etc.) …

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

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

A screen will display your selected widget with options for changing its 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 …

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

(Switch off accessibility mode)

How To Create Your Own Sidebar Widgets – An Easy Cheat

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 by plugins that you install on your website.

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

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you want to add to your sidebar navigation section…

Make sure that any images you plan to use fit the maximum width of your sidebar navigation menu. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to put content on the sidebar, so keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are really looking for is the content HTML to be pasted into the widget.

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

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

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

Your new custom widget will be added to your sidebar…

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

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"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group