How to Add and Use Widgets in WordPress: A Simple Guide

When you look at a website you’ll usually see that the left and right-hand columns, and sometimes the footer, have chunks of text and images that pass you on to somewhere else on the website when you click them. In WordPress these are called ‘widgets’.

With widgets, you can add different functionality to your WordPress sidebars and other widget-ready areas with no coding required.

This article will show you how to add and use widgets in WordPress, so you can customize your site quickly.

What Are Widgets & Why Do You Need Them in WordPress?

WordPress widgets are helpful tools built into the WordPress application that allow you to arrange the display of content on your blog sidebar, such as recent posts and archive lists. With widgets, you can arrange and display the content of the sidebar of your site without having to know a single bit of PHP or HTML.

Widget areas are the regions of your theme where you can insert and arrange content, such as a list of your recent blog posts or links to your favorite site. You can also add custom menus by dragging and dropping (and editing) available widgets (shown on the Dashboard’s Widget page) into the corresponding areas.

Many widgets offered by WordPress (and those added by some WordPress themes and plugins) provide drag-and-drop installation of advanced functions that normally are available only if you write code directly in your theme files.

Click the Widgets link on the Appearance menu of the Dashboard to see the available widgets on the Widgets screen. This feature is a big draw because it lets you control what features you use and where you place them without having to know a lick of code.

How To Add Widgets To Your Website? 

The Widgets screen lists all the widgets that are available for your WordPress site. On the right side of the Widgets screen is the Footer #1 and Footer #2 areas designated in the Twenty Twenty theme. 

You drag your selected widget from the Available Widgets section to your chosen widget area on the right. To add a Search box to the right side of the footer area of the default layout, for example, drag the Search widget from the Available Widgets section to the Footer #2 widget areas.

To add a new widget to your sidebar, follow these steps:

Step 1: Find the widget you want to use.

The widgets are listed in the Available Widgets section. For the purpose of these steps, choose the Recent Posts widget.

Drag and drop the Recent Posts widget to the Footer #1 widget section on the right side of the page.

The widget is now located in the Footer #1 widget section, and the content of the widget appears on your site’s sidebar.

Step 2: Click the arrow to the right of the widget title.

Options for the widget appear. Each widget has different options that you can configure. The Recent Posts widget, for example, lets you configure the title, the number of recent posts you want to display (the default is 5; the maximum is 15), and the date.

Step 3: Select your options, and click the Save button.

The options you’ve set are saved.

Step 4: Arrange your widgets in the order in which you want them to appear on your site by dragging and dropping them in the list.

Repeat this step until your widgets are arranged the way you want them.

To remove a widget from your sidebar, click the arrow to the right of the widget title to open the widget options; then click the Delete link. WordPress removes the widget from the right side of the page and places it back in the Available Widgets list. 

If you want to remove a widget but want WordPress to remember the settings that you configured for it, instead of clicking the Delete link, simply drag the widget into the Inactive Widgets area at the bottom of the Widgets screen. 

After you select and configure your widgets, click the Visit Site button at the top of your WordPress Dashboard (to the right of your site name). Your site reflects the content and order of the content of the Widgets screen. How cool is that? You can go back to the Widgets screen and rearrange items, as well as add and remove items, to your heart’s content.

The number of options available for editing a widget depends on the widget. Some widgets have several editable options; others simply let you write a title. The Recent Posts widget, for example, has three options: one for editing the title of the widget, one for setting how many recent posts to display, and one for specifying whether to display the post date.

How To Use the Text widget?

The Text widget is one of the most popular and useful WordPress widgets because it enables you to add text to your themes layout without editing the theme’s template files. Therefore, you can designate several types of information on your site by including your desired text within it.

Here are some examples of how you can use the Text widget:

  • About Us. Add a paragraph about you, or about your business, that appears in the widget areas of the theme.
  • Display business hours of operation. Display the days and hours of your business operation where everyone can easily see them.
  • Announce special events and notices. If your organization has a special sale, an announcement about a staff member, or an important notice about weather closings, for example, you can use the Text widget to post this information to your site in a few seconds.

To add the Text widget, follow these steps:

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, click the Widgets link on the Appearance menu.
  2. Find the Text widget in the Available Widgets section.
  3. Drag the Text widget to the desired widget area.
  4. Add a widget headline in the Title field and any desired text in the Content box.
  5. Click the Save button.
  6. Click the Close link at the bottom of the Text widget.

How To Use the RSS widget?

The RSS widget allows you to pull headlines from almost any RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, including recent headlines from your other WordPress sites. You can also use it to pull in headlines from news sites or other sources that offer RSS feeds. 

This practice is commonly referred to as aggregation, which means that you’re gathering information from a syndicated RSS feed source to display on your site.

After you drag the RSS widget to the appropriate widget area, the widget opens, and you can enter the RSS Feed URL you want to display. 

Follow these steps to add the RSS widget to your blog:

  1. Add the RSS widget to the Footer #1 area of the Widgets screen. Follow the steps in “Adding widgets to your website”.
  2. Click the arrow to the right of the RSS widget’s name. The widget opens, displaying options you can configure.
  3. In the Enter the RSS Feed URL Here text box, type the RSS URL of the site you want to add.
  4. Type the title of the RSS widget. This title appears in your site above the links from this site. If I wanted to add the RSS feed from my business site, for example, I’d type WebDevStudios Feed.
  5. Select the number of items from the RSS feed to display on your site. The drop-down menu gives you a choice of 1 to 20.
  6. (Optional) Select the Display the Item Content? check box. Selecting this check box tells WordPress that you also want to display the content of the feed (usually, the content of the post from the feed URL). If you want to display only the title, leave the checkbox deselected.
  7. (Optional) Select the Display Item Author If Available? check box. Select this option if you want to display the author’s name with the item’s title.
  8. (Optional) Select the Display Item Date? check box. Select this option if you want to display the date when the item was published along with the item’s title.
  9. Click the Save button. WordPress saves all the options and reloads the Widgets page with your RSS widget intact. 
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