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How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

In Part One of this tutorial series, 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 commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final section, we are going to complete this tutorial by configuring a few more useful WordPress 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 To The WordPress Sidebar

Now, let’s add a widget to your sidebar navigation section that will display news updates from An RSS feed.

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

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

  1. RSS feed URL: Paste the RSS feed URL into this section.
  2. Feed Title: If you want to add an optional widget feed, enter it into this section.
  3. Items to display: Choose how many items you would like to show on your sidebar navigation area from the drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Check this box if you would like to show the item content.
  5. Display item author: Tick this box if you would like to show the RSS feed item author.
  6. Display item date: Check this box to display the feed item item date.

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows an RSS Feed widget configured with the settings shown above …

(RSS Widget added to sidebar navigation section)

The example below shows an RSS widget configured with additional options selected …

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Section To Your Blog Sidebar

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to display a tag list on your sidebar.

Tags appearing in the widget are listed in the Tags panel …

(WordPress Tags area)

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 not much to configure in this widget. You can add a title, 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 …

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post tags)

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

(Tag Cloud widget displaying categories)

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

Configure Your Archives Widget In The Sidebar

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

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

The Archives Widget allows visitors to view dated WordPress posts …

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is really very little to set up in this widget. You can add a title if you want, 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 …

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget configured to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

(Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful features of 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:

How To Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

The above theme is using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an available widget area, the other widgets will your selected widgets will be used instead.

Note: If you want nothing to display in your sidebar navigation menu, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar menu.

Add a blank text widget …

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

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve shown you in an earlier example, WordPress lets you easily and quickly rearrange how information is displayed in areas like your site’s sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop technology …

(Reorganize sidebar layout with widgets to improve user experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have redesigned 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 layout using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, however, 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 use widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via Screen Options, lets you use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag-and-drop.

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

(Widgets Menu)

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

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

(Turn 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 …

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

A screen displays the selected widget with options for customizing the widget’s settings, selecting a widget location, plus drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in the widget area (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

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

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

A screen will display your selected widget with options for editing its settings.

Click Save Widget to update your settings and return to the Active Widgets section, 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 restore the drag & drop function to your Widgets …

(Disable accessibility mode)

Create Your Own Custom 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 area by plugins that you install on your site.

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

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

Ensure that any images you plan to use are resized to fit the maximum width of the sidebar section. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of room to add content on the blog sidebar, so try and keep your information concise.

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are really after is the content HTML so we can paste it into the widget.

After writing your content, click on the Text tab …

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

Next, 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 will be added to the sidebar…

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

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