Control WordPress Widget Visibility With Conditional Widgets

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Widgets are an excellent way to promote other aspects of your website, without interrupting the content a visitor is currently reading. Typically, this is done in a sidebar or another area designated by your WordPress theme for widgets.

There may be times, however, when you only want a widget to display on certain pages. Fortunately, conditional widgets exist for just this scenario. For example, if you have a calendar widget on your website, you may only want it to appear on your events page. 

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what conditional widgets are and how to create them. We’ll also explore two options for setting them up. Let’s dive right in! 

What Are Conditional Widgets?

In a nutshell, conditional widgets are WordPress widgets that have an additional control variable. This enables you to determine whether or not each widget will appear on a specific page or post. This can help you in a couple of different ways. 

First, you can maximize valuable website real estate. There’s only so much sidebar space to spare in most themes. When you make your widgets conditional, you can control how much of that space is dedicated to each feature. You’ll be able to include or exclude certain widgets from the sidebar as needed. 

Additionally, by making your widgets conditional, you can ensure that your sidebars are more relevant to each page. For example, you can remove a map and directions widget from all of your other pages, but leave them visible on your ‘About’ page. This frees up that sidebar widget space for more relevant content on your other pages. 

How to Make a Conditional Widget (Without Jetpack)

When it comes to working with conditional widgets, there are a couple of tools you can use. Some of them require adjustments to your theme’s code, while others do not.

We’ll first take a look at how to activate conditional options with a plugin that does require a little extra coding knowledge. Then we’ll explore how to achieve the same results with the Jetpack plugin

Step 1: Choose a Conditional Widget Plugin

There are several plugin options for making widgets conditional. For this example, we’re going to use Widget Logic

Widget Login plugin banner

This plugin adds a field to all of your widgets, where you can include any WordPress conditional tags or general PHP code. To get started, you’ll first want to install and activate the plugin

Step 2: Open Your Widget Panel

Next, you can navigate to Appearance > Widgets and open the settings panel on any widget to access a new Widget logic field: 

WordPress widget panel

This is where you can add any of the WordPress conditional tags we mentioned previously. For example, if you want a particular widget to display in the sidebar of every page except your ‘About’ page, you might add: 

!is_page('about')

Similarly, you can combine multiple conditional tags to further customize your widgets’ display. For example, you can specify certain widgets to show up only on single posts of a certain category, by using category names. If you want all posts in a ‘baked goods’ category to display a specific widget, you could use: 

is_single() && in_category('baked-goods')

Additionally, you’ll find more options at the bottom of your Appearance > Widgets page: 

Widget Logic options

These settings enable you to specify the order in which your new widget logic will load. This is particularly important for themes that vary significantly from the more standard WordPress options.

Ultimately, you’ll need to know your theme’s code pretty well in order to avoid errors when using this plugin. Additionally, you’ll want to be familiar with the WordPress Loop, so you can more fully understand the order in which certain elements will load on your website. 

Changing Widget Visibility With Jetpack

As we mentioned earlier, another solution for customizing your widget display options is to use Jetpack. This multipurpose plugin has many features that can help you tweak the performance of your WordPress website, and it enables you to manage conditional widgets as well. 

Step 1: Open Jetpack’s Settings

Once you’ve carried out the necessary Jetpack installation and setup steps, you’ll need to visit the Jetpack > Settings page in your WordPress dashboard. Then click on the Writing tab:

Jetpack writing settings

The Widget visibility feature is not enabled by default. You’ll need to scroll down to the Widget settings area and toggle this option on:

Jetpack widget visibility feature

Your changes will be automatically saved. Once you complete this step, you’ll be able to control where widgets appear on your website. 

Step 2: Add New Rules

Now that your visibility feature has been turned on, you’ll can navigate to Appearance > Widget in your WordPress dashboard. If you click on an active widget, you’ll see a new Visibility button: 

WordPress widget visibility in footer block

If you select Visibility, you’ll find a new panel of options where you can create visibility logic statements. These will enable you to control where each particular widget appears on your WordPress website: 

wordpress widget visibility settings in footer block

You can create multiple logic statements to control your widget’s visibility, but you’ll then need to decide if all the conditions should be matched. If so, you’ll want to check the Match all conditions box.

For example, if you want to hide the Recent Posts widget on your website’s front page, but only when posts are written by a specific author, you could set up the logic like this: 

recent posts widget visibilty

By using Jetpack to customize your widgets, you should not have to adjust your theme’s code. However, we still recommend testing out your new settings on a staging server before deploying them to your live website. 

Customize Your Site With WP Engine

Now that you know how to gain more control over what pages and posts your WordPress widgets appear on, you can create highly-relevant sidebars for your website. Here at WP Engine, we understand how important having access to the right developer resources can be if you want to create a truly custom site. 

Additionally, website customization can often require a lot of testing, trial, and error. That’s why we offer a variety of hosting plans with all the tools and resources you need to build an amazing digital experience. Check out all of our WordPress solutions and products for your next project!

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