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 series, we explained how to use widgets in WordPress and in Part Two, you learned how to configure text widgets.

In Part 3, we began configuring various default WordPress widgets.

In this final installment, we show you how to complete this step-by-step tutorial 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:

Adding An RSS Widget To Your Sidebar

Let’s 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 …

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

(RSS Widget settings)

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

The example below shows a published RSS widget configured with the above settings …

(RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured with other options selected …

(RSS Widget settings)

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

Adding A Tag Cloud Section

Let’s now add a widget to display clickable tags on your sidebar navigation area.

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget are managed 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 your sidebar …

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget)

There is really not much 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 …

(Tag Cloud Widget settings)

Your Tag cloud will now display on your sidebar …

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress tags)

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

(Tag cloud set to display WordPress categories)

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

Configure The WordPress Archives Section In Your Sidebar

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

As you keep publishing new posts in WordPress, your older posts begin to move further away from public view. Your posts are still there, it’s just not as visible.

The Archives Widget lets readers view WordPress posts that you may have published a while ago …

(WordPress Archives Widget)

There is not much to configure in this widget. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar widget in a dropdown menu, and display the number of posts published each month . Click Save when done …

(Archives Widget settings)

The example below shows a published Archives widget set to show posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts enabled …

(Archives Widget added to sidebar)

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

WordPress Widgets – Useful Tips

Here are some useful things to know about using 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 blog sidebar that aren’t listed under the active sidebar inside the Appearance > Widgets section, it’s because some themes will display their own default set of widgets unless you add widgets to your sidebar.

For example, this site displays a couple of 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 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, either use a theme page template without a widgets section or just add a blank Text widget to the sidebar section.

Just add a blank text widget to a widget area …

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

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained in an earlier example, with WordPress you can easily and quickly reorder how content is displayed in widgetized areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse, using drag-&-drop …

(Reorganizing sidebar layout with widgets can help to improve visitor experience)

In the above screenshot, for example, you can see that we have easily rearranged the site’s sidebar menu 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 reorganize your sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s user 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 if you enable Accessibility Mode.

How To Enable Accessibility Mode For WordPress Widgets

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

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

(Widgets Menu)

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

(Widgets – Screen Options)

Click link to enable accessibility mode …

(Switch 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 will display the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, and drop-down menus for specifying the position of the widget in your widget location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “4”, 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 will display 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 remove 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 …

(Switch off 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 area when you install new plugins on your site.

Here is an easy way to create your own sidebar widget:

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

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

Also, don’t worry about saving your Post – all we are really looking for is the code of the content so we can paste it into a widget.

After creating your content, switch to the Text tab …

Select and copy everything to your clipboard…

Next, go into your Widgets Screen.

Add a new Text widget to your sidebar, paste the content from your clipboard into the content field and click Save

Your new widget is now added to your sidebar area…

(Create your own custom sidebar widgets)

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

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