WordPress Tutorials for Beginners


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Enhance your site with widgets

Widgets are some of the handiest features on WordPress.com. They are free built-in tools, accessible from your dashboard, that allow you to add custom touches to your sidebar or footer. You can display important information more prominently, direct readers to content you want them to see, and reinforce your site’s design. With widgets, you can add a bit of flair and personalize your site with a few clicks.

Widget basics

You can add a variety of widgets from the Customizer: go to My Sites, then click on Customize next to Themeswhich will open up the Customizer and a panel of selections on the left-hand side of the screen.

As you’ve discovered, each theme is different: some themes have a left or right sidebar, some may have a footer section at the bottom of your blog, and some themes have hidden widget areas that pop out with the click of a button. So, the placement of your widgets will depend on your current theme.

In your Customizer, click on the Widgets tab. Your theme’s current widget areas will display (and might look a bit different from this):

To add a widget, first click on a widget area. In the panel, click on Add a Widget. The Customizer will show all of the available widgets that you can add. This is where the fun begins!

Scroll the alphabetized list of widgets, or use the search field at the top to find one. Then, click on a widget to add it. The Customizer will then display a box to configure the widget’s settings. If you have questions about a particular widget, each one has its own support page. Here’s a sample of the customization options available for the Follow Blog widget.

When you’ve finished updating these fields, click on arrow toggle on the right side of the widget’s title. You can also reopen and update a widget using the small down-facing arrow, or delete it by clicking Remove.

You can reorder these widget panels as well — you can select a widget and drag it up or down, depending on where you’d like it appear. After making your changes click on the Publish button at the top of the panel.

Quick advice on adding widgets

Add wisely. You can add as many widgets to your sidebar or footer as you’d like, but choose carefully — the key is to display widgets that enhance your site, rather than detract attention from your content. This handy overview on design and clarity and this post about how to tackle your sidebar offer food for thought.

Starting out and not sure what to add? We recommend several widgets to start, no matter what kind of blogger you are and what type of site you have. The Text and Image Widgets are the simplest and most straightforward widgets out there, but are very powerful and versatile. With a Text Widget, you can display a mix of text and HTML, which is handy for a bite-sized bio, important business information, or a quick update for your readers.

text widget

An Image Widget lets you show a custom image that you’ve uploaded to your media library, so you can display your new book’s cover, for example, and link the image to your book’s Amazon, Goodreads, or other page. This blogger has used an Image Widget to link to a category of posts — in this case posts with the “mural” category.

image widget

Other handy widgets perform more specific functions: the Top Posts & Pages Widget displays your most liked or popular content, while the Follow Blog Widget allows visitors to sign up and receive your posts via email.

On the widgets support page, you’ll find a list of all available widgets on the right side, in case you want information on a specific widget. This roundup of widget resources is also a great place to explore quick widget tutorials.

Show and hide widgets. Once you have your widgets in place, you can adjust their settings to display on specific pages of your blog using the Widget Visibility feature. When editing a widget, you’ll see a Visibility button at the bottom right. Configure the settings to show (or hide) a widget on a specific page; or category, tag, or author page, for example. It’s a handy tool offering more control over what a reader will see when viewing a certain page. This tutorial on widget visibility explains some cases where the setting might be helpful for you.

In case you need more guidance…

You’ve got a lot of widgets to choose from! For more on working with widgets, here are some resources to dig into:

  1. Want to connect your social accounts right away? Activate your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Timeline Widgets.
  2. Get to know popular widgets in our tutorial series: Widgets 101, 201, and 301.
  3. Interested in adding more visuals to your sidebar? Consider these image-focused widgets.
  4. Learn how to create your own custom Image Widget with this step-by-step tutorial.
  5. Learn how to grab the HTML you need to add images to widgets in this handy tutorial.

You’ve spent the past several sessions customizing your site — it’s coming along! Next, in Get Connected, we’ll switch gears and talk about ways to connect with others and get your site noticed. You’ve worked so hard to make it your own — now it’s time to show it to the world!

An Automattic Medley

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