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

How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

In Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, 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 various frequently-used WordPress widgets.

In this final installment, we are going to complete this step-by-step tutorial series by configuring 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 now add a widget to your sidebar section that displays news items from An RSS feed.

To add the widget, select 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 want to add a widget feed, enter it into this field.
  3. Items to display: Select the number of feed items you would like to display on your sidebar from this drop-down menu.
  4. Display item content: Tick this box to display the feed item content.
  5. Display item author: Check this box if you want to display the feed item item author.
  6. Display item date: Tick this box if you want to display the item item date.

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different widget settings to find the ideal combination for you.

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

(WordPress RSS Widget added to blog sidebar)

The screenshot below shows an RSS Feed widget configured using some of the other options selected …

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Add A Tag Cloud

Let’s now add a widget to your sidebar that will display clickable tags.

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget can be found in the Tags area …

(WordPress Tags area)

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

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is very little to set up 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 navigation area …

(Tag Cloud widget set to display WordPress post tags)

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

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure The Archives Section

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

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

The Archives Widget lets your readers access previously published WordPress posts …

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really not much to configure in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar area in a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts . Click Save when done …

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows an Archives widget set up for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with post counts enabled …

(WordPress Archives Widget added to sidebar navigation area)

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

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some additional ways to use 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 Widgets

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

For example, this site displays some widgets in the sidebar area …

If you look inside the Widgets area, however, you will see that no widgets have been added to any of the available widget areas …

The theme above could be using default widgets.

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

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

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

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we have explained previously, with WordPress you can completely reorder how content is displayed in widgetized areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-and-drop …

(Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help to improve your site’s user experience)

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

Reorganizing sidebar elements using widgets can improve your site’s 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 work with widgets by enabling Accessibility Mode.

Enabling Widget Accessibility Mode

Enabling Accessibility Mode, via your Screen Options, allows you to use Add and Edit buttons instead of using drag and drop.

To enable Accessibility Mode, log into your admin and go to the Widgets section …

(Widgets Menu)

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

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on the Enable accessibility mode link …

(Enable 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 …

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 dropdown menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

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

Click on an active widget’s Edit link …

A screen displays the selected widget with options for editing the widget’s 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 area …

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

(Disable accessibility mode)

How To 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 section when you install new plugins on your site.

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

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

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

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

After writing your content, switch to the Text tab …

Select and copy everything 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 custom widget will be added to your sidebar…

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

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