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How to Add a WordPress Widget to Your Website Header

Do you want to add a WordPress widget to your website’s header area? Widgets allow you to easily add content blocks into designated sections of your theme. In this article, we will show you how to easily add a WordPress widget to your site’s header.

Add a WordPress widget to your site's header

Note: This is an intermediate level tutorial. You will need to add code to your WordPress theme files and write CSS.

Why and When You Need a Header Widget on Your Site?

Widgets allow you to easily add content blocks to a designated area in your WordPress theme. These designated areas are called sidebars or widget-ready areas.

A widget ready area in header or before content can be used to display ads, recent articles, or anything you want.

This particular area is called ‘Below the fold’ and all popular sites use it to show really important stuff.

The header section on the popular List25 website

Typically, WordPress themes add sidebars next to the content or in footer area. Not many WordPress themes add widget-ready areas above the content are or in the header.

That’s why in this article, we will cover how to add a widget area to your WordPress website’s header.

Step 1. Creating a Header Widget Area

First, we need to create a custom widget area. This step will allow you to see your custom widget area on Appearance » Widgets page in your WordPress dashboard.

You will need to add this code to your theme’s functions.php file.

function wpb_widgets_init() {

	register_sidebar( array(
		'name'          => 'Custom Header Widget Area',
		'id'            => 'custom-header-widget',
		'before_widget' => '<div class="chw-widget">',
		'after_widget'  => '</div>',
		'before_title'  => '<h2 class="chw-title">',
		'after_title'   => '</h2>',
	) );

}
add_action( 'widgets_init', 'wpb_widgets_init' );

This code registers a new sidebar or a widget ready area for your theme.

You can now go to Appearance » Widgets page, and you will see a new widget area labeled ‘Custom Header Widget Area’.

Custom header widget area

Go ahead, and add a text widget to this newly created widget area and save it. See our guide on how to add and use widgets in WordPress for detailed instructions on adding widgets.

Step 2: Display Your Custom Header Widget

If you visit your website now, you will not be able to see the text widget you just added to your newly created header widget.

That’s because we haven’t yet told WordPress where to display this widget area.

Let’s do that in this step.

You will need to edit the header.php file in your theme and add this code where you want to display your custom widget area.

<?php

if ( is_active_sidebar( 'custom-header-widget' ) ) : ?>
    <div id="header-widget-area" class="chw-widget-area widget-area" role="complementary">
	<?php dynamic_sidebar( 'custom-header-widget' ); ?>
    </div>
	
<?php endif; ?>

Don’t forget to save your changes.

You can now visit your website and you will see your header widget area.

Unstyled header widget

You will notice that it looks a bit unpolished. That’s where you will need CSS to make it look better.

Step 3: Style Your Header Widget Area Using CSS

Depending on your theme, you will need to add CSS to control how the header widget area and each widget inside it is displayed.

The easier way to do this is by using CSS Hero plugin. It allows you to use an intuitive user interface to change CSS of any WordPress theme. For more details see our CSS Hero review.

If you don’t want to use a plugin, then you can add custom css to your theme by visiting Appearance » Customize page.

This will launch the WordPress theme customizer interface. You will need to click on the ‘Additional CSS’ tab.

Adding custom CSS to a WordPress theme

The additional CSS tab in theme customizer allows you to add your custom CSS while watching the changes appear in the live preview.

For the sake of this tutorial, we are assuming that you will be only using this area to add a single widget to display banner ads, or a custom menu widget.

Here is some sample CSS to help you get started.

div#header-widget-area {
    width: 100%;
    background-color: #f7f7f7;
border-bottom:1px solid #eeeeee;
    text-align: center;
}	
h2.chw-title {
    margin-top: 0px;
    text-align: left;
    text-transform: uppercase;
    font-size: small;
    background-color: #feffce;
    width: 130px;
    padding: 5px;
    }

This is how our custom header widget area looked on the default Twenty Seventeen theme.

Preview of header widget

You may need to adjust the CSS to match your theme. Take a look at our guide on how to add custom styles to WordPress widgets.

We hope this article helped you learn how to add a WordPress widget to your site’s header. You may also want to see our list of 25 most useful WordPress widgets for your site.

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Reader Interactions

78 CommentsLeave a Reply

    • That would depend on your specific theme, we would first recommend reaching out to your specific theme’s support to see if they have a built-in method for what you’re wanting to do or have recommended settings.

      Admin

  1. Hello, I added the custom header widget successfully, but after updating the theme my custom header widget is not working ? Please tell me the solution! Looking forward to your response. thanks

  2. Excellent code snippets which I was able to adapt and style to do the jobs I wanted. Many thanks for this

  3. Hi WP Beginner,

    How do I get the widget area in the header on the right side of the menu? I want to add the ADD TO CART icon in there.

    • For placement, it would depend on the specific theme you are using, if you check with your theme’s support they should be able to let you know what part of your header.php file to add the code to or if they have a built-in method to do so.

      Admin

  4. Thank You WPBeginner Editorial Team giving a perfect blog to the beginners and middle class coders. It is a big platform to learn and to execute WordPress. You were the big reason for the success of many bloggers and business owners.

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. it works but the trouble I have is that it’s not responsible for mobile devices. is it possible to make the sidebar responsible?

    • I believe you mean responsive in which case, we sadly do not have a recommended method for making this widget responsive at the moment.

      Admin

    • Depending on your specific theme, if there is content before the header.php content, you would want to reach out to the theme’s support

      Admin

  6. hello,
    I would like to make an header like the one in the first picture on the top of this page ( the list 25 website).
    How can I make It?
    Please help me!

  7. well I am unable to access my header.php ! is there any other way to display my header? like from css!

  8. Hello!

    Perfect tutorial.

    Im using it to create a Topbar, but im facing a problem the widgets (in my case 2) are one below the other.

    How can I make them to be displayed side by side?

  9. This tutorial is very useful.
    How to remove the white space above this widget area in Posts? Thanks for any help

  10. What would I have to put in the header.php to ONLY show on the home page but not show on other pages?

    • Hi Mikhail,

      You can use conditional tags like is_home or is_front_page to display things on certain pages in WordPress. For example:

      If ( is_front_page() ) { 
      // code you want to display on the homepage
      } 
      

      Admin

      • Hi, this is really what I’m looking for and it would be great if I could get it to work! Creating the widget area works fine, displaying it does unfortunately not.. I would also like to display it only on the start page.
        I´m not sure
        1) where in the header file to put the display code
        2) where to put this “only-on-startpage”-code and what code goes on line 2
        I understand if my questions are too basic to bother with, but I would be really grateful if someone has time and patience for it anyway..:-) Thanks in advance!!

        • Hi Anna,

          These are perfectly reasonable questions.

          1. You need to put the display code based on where you want to display the header widget. For example, your theme’s header.php file may have a section to display site title, logo, description, and navigation menus. They will probably be wrapped around div tags. You will put your header widget code before or after these areas. If you are unsure, you can place the code at the end of the header.php file.

          2. If you only want to display the widget area on your website’s front page then you can use conditional tags like this:

          if ( is_front_page() ) {
          // your widget display code goes here 
          
          } 
          
        • OK, I cheated and put the widget-code in the front-page.php instead, it worked! Thanks :-)!

    • Hi again, it became visible on start page with css positioning!

      Now it’s only the question of how to put together the only-on-start-page-code with the visibility code…

      Thanks again for kindness and patience..)

  11. Great tutorial thanks. I am trying to implement the JetPack Cookie Consent Widget and despite following your instructions the Cookie Consent bar still appears at the bottom of the page.

    Is it possible the widget is overriding the code?

  12. Does this still work for Twentyseventeen? The functions.php part works fine, but the header.php part doesn’t.

  13. Hello
    pls can someone here help me as how to make this responsive on any mobile device?

    i want to insert a google adsense code here for ads 728 x 90 banner sizes but any time i do so, it shows perfectly on desktops but on mobile devices it becomes weird.
    thank you

  14. I have successfully created a header widget and It was really easy, thanks to you all. But I actually wanted it in the POSTS, not on the Homepage because I’m using Nikko Portfolio theme and it looks awful.
    Please Help.

  15. I placed the code in my functions.php file and added my widget code in the header.php file and added my widget text and saved.
    When I move on to editing pages, upon clicking Update, I get a white screen and can’t see my page.
    I then have to go back to /wp-admin to see the dashboard. There are no console errors when I click update but just a white screen.

  16. This is great for that header advertizment thing, but what I want to do is add a pay pal donation button to my header. (Right side) cant believe there is no video tutorials out there on how to make a a widgetized header space to drag your pay pal widget into so that it appears on the right side of your header.. i can imagine there is alot of people who could benefit from an instructional on this.

  17. This is a great tutorial, but I would like to create a widget area that can be placed above the header area would that also be possible?

  18. Just updated everything and it’s working great on my desktop. Now, if you could tell me how to get the widget to display on my mobile device that would be great! Did I mess something along the way?

  19. Hi, many thanks for writing this, it has helped me massively. However, with my website: how do I get the widget to appear at the far right hand side. When I use the option to show search field in the header, this is the place I want it to go?

    Thanks in advance! :)

  20. I am confused. I don’t understand how to get an image into the widget and let the user change the image. I don’t see where your image is coming from.

  21. Would it be possible to make a tutorial about how to make a TopBar with sections (Social media icons, Notice, Search, Woocommerce cart).

    No plugin does really do that well

    Thanks

  22. If i want to add multiple custom widget areas do i need to add a new function to functions.php for each? or just add them in the area i want?

  23. I managed to use the widget in the navigation bar instead of the header area as I wanted to add a language toggle option at this section. I have a small problem where I can’t move the language two flags to the any horizontal location. I tried to add margin-right: 100px; to the advanced CSS section but it didn’t change. It might be something else centering all the navigation content but I want to make sure if it could be fixed with the widget.

    • Hey how did you edit the code to put it in the nav bar? I’m currently trying to do the same thing without any luck.

  24. When I attempt to add more than one custom widget area, I receive a 500 Error on my website. Is there a reason for this? Is it possible to create more than one custom widget area for a theme?

  25. Hi! When i try to update the function.php file, there is this fatal error:
    Fatal error: Cannot redeclare wpb_widgets_init()
    I am not sure if i did a wrong edit. Could you help

    • Hey Nina,

      This means that wpb_widgets_init function already exists in your functions.php file. You will have to replace it like wpb2_widgets_init to make it unique or remove the previous code that you added.

      Admin

  26. Hello,

    Thanks so much for this, it is really helpful.

    One issue I am running into: My widget is just a menu of a couple of text links to pages. Here is my site:

    See how the text is all the way against the right side of the header area? I would like to use a right margin to line it up under “Contact” without turning the margin area white.

    Also, would love to make the text black. :)

    Many thanks if you can help with these tweaks!

    Sam

  27. Your blog is most helpful. Thank you for helping us made modifications to Twenty Seventeen. People like you make using a new wordpress theme like Twenty-seventeen much easier.

    I am relatively new to word press and would like to try some additional modifications to Twenty seventeen.

    I would like to create a new widget for wp pages. I am trying to figure out how I can take your blog information on how to make a new widget for the header and apply it to a wp page in the twenty seventeen theme. I am getting stuck.

    Could you show us now to create a new widget for a page? That would be awesome.

    Thanks
    Tommy

  28. Thank you very much Mr. Admin.You are teahing to us ‘how to make our own web site. l always follow your posting and l make my own web site. Thank you very much.

  29. I used this and though it worked in adding a custom widget area to the top of my page, i could not get it to align with the other items in the header (company logo and nav menu) in Cherry. No matter where I put it in the header.php, it either appeared above or below the other items. I wanted to use it to create a phone number block between the logo and the nav menu. Though I could get it to center in correct spot horizontally, i could not get it to appear between them. To give you a better idea of what I need, imagine that on this very page’s header, you wanted to move the nav menu justified to the right and put your 800 number between it and the “wpbeginner” logo. How could I use this code (or a variation of it) to do that?

  30. Thank you so much for this (and all) of your detailed tutorials! Could you please tell me how to implement a header widget, excluding the Homepage?

    • In the code that you added to header.php change the first line:
      if ( is_active_sidebar( 'custom-header-widget' ) ) : ? >
      with this one:
      if ( is_active_sidebar( 'custom-header-widget' ) && ! is_front_page ) : ?

    • Sorry, I missed something!
      The line that you have to add is:
      if ( is_active_sidebar( 'custom-header-widget' ) && ! is_front_page() ) : ?>

  31. Wow, and i taught i was limited to adding widgets only in the sidebar, thanks for the tips.

    Mihaita,

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