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How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

In Part One of this tutorial, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure a text widget.

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

In this final installment, we explain how to complete the tutorial series by configuring a few more commonly-used WordPress sidebar 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 A Newsfeed To The Sidebar

Let’s now add An RSS widget to display news items on your sidebar section.

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

(WordPress RSS Widget settings)

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

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

(RSS Widget on sidebar navigation section)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS widget configured using some of the other options selected …

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud To The Sidebar

Now, let’s add a widget to the sidebar navigation area that will display tags.

Tags displayed in your widget can be found in the Tags section …

(WordPress Tags screen)

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

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really very little to configure. You can add a 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 the sidebar navigation menu …

(Tag Cloud widget displaying WordPress tags)

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

(Tag cloud displaying WordPress categories)

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

How To Configure Your WordPress Archives Section In The Sidebar Menu

To complete this tutorial series, we’ll configure the Archives Widget, which is another commonly-used widget.

As you publish new posts in 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 allows visitors to access your previously published posts …

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There’s really not much to set up. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in your sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts . Click Save when done …

(WordPress Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows an Archives widget configured for displaying posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

(Archives Widget displayed on sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful 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 Sidebar Widgets

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

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

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

This theme is obviously using default widgets.

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

Note: If you want no widgets to display in the sidebar, either use a theme page template without a widgets layout or just add a blank Text widget to your sidebar.

Just add a blank text widget …

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

Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained in an earlier example, WordPress lets you easily rearrange how content displays in widgetized areas of your website or blog, like sidebars, footers and navigation menus with only a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-and-drop …

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

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

You can rearrange your sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s visitor 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.

Enable Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

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

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable 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 …

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 the widget location, and drop-down menus that let you specify the position of the widget in your widget location (e.g. position “1”, “3”, “6”, etc.) …

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

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

A screen displays the selected widget with options for changing the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to update your settings and go back to the Active Widgets section, or click the Delete button to remove 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 section by plugins that you install on your site.

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

First, create a new Post and enter the content that you would like to display on the sidebar area…

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

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we really want is to copy the code of the content to paste into your widget.

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

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Next, go into your Widgets Screen.

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 your sidebar…

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

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For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.