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

How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 4

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

In Part Three, we began configuring various commonly-used widgets in WordPress.

In this final installment, we show you how to complete the tutorial by configuring a few more commonly-used 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 Your Blog Sidebar

Let’s add a widget to the sidebar menu 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 active area …

(WordPress RSS Widget)

Enter the following information into the widget settings:

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

(RSS Widget settings)

Experiment with different options to find the combination that best works for you.

The screenshot below shows a published RSS Feed widget configured as per the above settings …

(WordPress RSS Widget on sidebar)

The screenshot below shows the RSS 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 To The Blog Sidebar

Let’s add A Tag Cloud widget to the sidebar.

Tags appearing in the Tag Cloud widget are listed in the Tags area …

(Tags area)

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

(Tag Cloud Widget)

There’s really not much to set up. You can add a widget title, and choose whether to display items in the tag cloud using Tags or Categories. Click Save when finished …

(WordPress Tag Cloud Widget settings)

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

(Tag Cloud widget set to display post tags)

The example below shows the Tag Cloud widget set to show Categories instead of Tags

(Tag Cloud widget displaying categories)

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

Configuring The WordPress Archives Widget In The Sidebar

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

As you continue publishing 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 lets your readers access WordPress posts that you may have published a while back …

(Archives Widget)

There is very little to set up. You can add a title if you want, and choose whether to display items in the sidebar widget as a dropdown menu, and show the number of posts published each month . Click Save when finished …

(Archives Widget settings)

The screenshot below shows the Archives widget set to display posts as a dropdown menu with number of posts checkbox enabled …

(WordPress Archives Widget on blog sidebar)

Now that you know how to configure most of the frequently-used widgets in WordPress, let’s explore some other useful things about using WordPress widgets.

Useful Widget Tips

Here are some useful things to know about 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:

Override Default WordPress Sidebar Widgets

If you see widgets appearing on your site’s sidebar navigation area that aren’t showing up under the active sidebar in your 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 a couple of widgets in the sidebar section …

If you look in the Widgets area, however, no widgets have actually been added to the available widget areas …

This theme could be using default widgets.

Once you add one or more widgets to an active widget area, the other widgets will disappear and be replaced with the selected widgets instead.

Note: If you don’t want anything to display in your sidebar area, 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 display in your sidebar/footer section …

Widget Accessibility Mode

As we’ve explained previously, with WordPress you can easily rearrange how information is displayed in widgetized areas of your website sidebars, footers and navigation menus with just a few clicks of your mouse button, using drag-&-drop technology …

(Rearrange sidebar layout using widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience)

In the screenshot above, for example, you can see that we have quickly and easily redesigned the layout in the site’s sidebar by switching around 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.

You can reorganize your sidebar layout with widgets to improve your site’s visitor experience.

If, for some reason, you find that you cannot move widgets using drag-and-drop (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 Widget Accessibility Mode

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

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

(Widgets Menu)

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

(WordPress Widgets – Screen Options)

Click on Enable accessibility mode

(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 displays the selected widget with options for customizing its settings, selecting the widget location, plus dropdown menus for specifying the position of the widget in your selected location (e.g. position “1”, “2”, “6”, etc.) …

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

Click on the Edit link of an active widget …

A screen will display your selected widget with options for changing the widget’s settings.

Click Save Widget to return 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 go back to using drag-and-drop …

(Disable accessibility mode)

Creating Your Own Custom Sidebar Widgets

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 website.

Here is a simple way to create your own sidebar widgets:

First, create a new Post and type in the content that you would like to display in the sidebar navigation area…

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

Also, don’t worry about publishing your Post – all we want is the content HTML to be pasted into a sidebar widget.

After composing your content, switch to the Text tab …

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

(Create your own sidebar widgets)

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

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