WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

In Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part 2, you learned how to configure a text widget.

In Part Three, we began configuring a number of commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we explain how to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by learning how to configure a few more frequently-used 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:

Add An RSS Widget

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

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

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

(RSS Widget added to sidebar navigation section)

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

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud Section

Let’s add a widget to the sidebar that will display a tag cloud.

Tags displayed in the widget can be found in the Tags area …

(Tags screen)

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

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really very little to set up here. 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)

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

(Tag Cloud widget displaying tags)

The screenshot below shows the Tag Cloud widget configured to show Categories instead of Tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress categories)

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

Configure Your WordPress Archives Section In Your Sidebar Navigation Area

To complete this tutorial, 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 users. Your content is still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets your blog visitors access dated WordPress posts …

(Archives Widget)

There is really very little to set up in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in your Archives widget in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts . Click Save when finished …

(Archives Widget settings)

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

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some additional ways to use 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:

Overriding Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

This theme is probably using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active 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 menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

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

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have explained earlier, with WordPress you can completely rearrange how information displays in areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop technology …

(Reorganizing sidebar elements with widgets can improve visitor experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily change the widgets in the sidebar 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.

You can reorganize your sidebar elements using widgets to improve your site’s user experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you are unable to use the drag & 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 by enabling Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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 go to the Widgets section …

(Widgets Menu)

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

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

(Switch On accessibility mode)

Once the feature has been enabled, the widgets in the Available Widgets and the Active Widgets sections, widgets will display an Add and Edit links respectively …

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

A screen will display 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 the widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

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

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

A screen displays your selected widget with options for modifying the widget’s 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 …

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

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To 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 area by plugins that you install on your site.

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

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

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

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

After writing your content, click on the Text tab …

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

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

Your custom widget is now added to the sidebar…

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

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