How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

Learn how to add, configure, and use text widgets on your WordPress sidebar.

Using Widgets In WordPressIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we cover the basics of how to use widgets in WordPress.

In this section you are going to configure a number of WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Configure Widgets

By default, your site comes with several built-in widgets, such as widgets that let you display links to your pages, recent posts, RSS feed content, add a search box, etc.

In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with a number of pre-installed widgets

(In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with several preinstalled widgets)

Adding Sidebar Widgets In WordPress: Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial series, you are going to add, configure and reorder a number of commonly-used widgets, including:

  • Add a clickable Contact Us graphic button linking to your support page.
  • Add a Categories section with a drop down menu.
  • Add a Recent Posts section to display your latest posts.
  • Adding a list of Pages.
  • Display a list of useful Links on the sidebar navigation section.
  • Adding an RSS Feed section.
  • Adding a Tag Cloud.
  • Configure how Archived Posts display on the sidebar.

The Widgets panel can be accessed inside the administration by going to Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(Widgets Menu)

This brings up the Widgets screen in your web browser …

Widgets Screen

(Widgets Area)

Let’s get started …

Adding Text Widgets To Your Sidebar

Text widgets are incredibly useful …

Text widget

(Text widget)

Info

Rich Text Widget

From version 4.8 onward, WordPress has added native rich-text editing capabilities to text widgets …

Rich Text Widget

(Rich Text Widget)

This lets you quickly and easily format text, create lists, add emphasis, and insert links into your sidebar text …

(Format text easily with the new text widget)

A text widget can be used to add comments, image links, news and updates and more to your site … simply type in text or add HTML into the content area. You can also add an optional title in the Title field. Remember to save your settings when done …

Text widgets are versatile

(A text widget is really versatile!)

Example: Use A Text Widget To Add A Support Button To The Sidebar Section

For this example, we’ll set up a clickable help button on your sidebar that takes your visitors to a page on your site (or an external site, e.g. a helpdesk) where they can contact you for help and support.

First, create or source a graphic image that you can use on your own site …

Add A Contact Button To Your Sidebar Menu Using A Text Widget

We’ll set up the clickable Help button to display at the top of the sidebar area like in the example shown below …

Add A Support Button To The Sidebar Navigation Menu Using A Text Widget

Step 1 – Upload your image.

Upload the image to a folder on your server and note down the address of your image location.

E.g. …

http://www.yourdomain.com/images/supportbutton.jpg

This information will be used in Step 3.

In order for someone to go to the contact page when the help button is clicked, you will need to either create a contact page, or have an existing destination page already set up (e.g. a helpdesk). We will link your button image to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Add your destination page.

Create a contact page on your site and note the page URL …

Add A Help Button To Your Sidebar Section Using A Text Widget

Step 3 – Create your text widget code.

If you’re not a technical-minded person, don’t worry … this sounds a lot more technical than it is. Basically, you just need to create the instructions linking the button image to the contact page/helpdesk.

Your instructions can be typed in a plain text file and will look something like this …

Using A Text Widget To Add A Help Button To The Sidebar Area

  • Replace “http://www.yourdomain.com/contact-us” in the code above with the URL of your contact page location.
  • Replace “http://yourimagelocation.com/img/supportbutton.jpg” in the code with the URL of your image location.

The screenshot below shows which sections of the above code you will need to replace with your actual contact details …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To The Sidebar Area

Replace the above URLs and then copy all of the above code to your clipboard when finished.

If you need help understanding basic HTML code, refer to this tutorial:

Go back into your Widgets panel …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Widgets Panel)

Step 4 – Add a Text widget.

Add a Text widget to your sidebar where you want your support button to display.

In the Available Widgets area, select the Text widget …

WordPress text widget

(Text widget)

Drag the Text widget to your Active Widgets section and release it at the top of the Widget Area

Drag-and-drop your WordPress text widget

(Dragging and dropping your WordPress text widget)

Step 5 – Configure the widget.

Click on the Text widget title bar to configure the widget options. Paste the code with the URLs to your contact page and graphic button into your text widget content area and click save …

Text widget

Add a title to your widget if you want (e.g. “Need Help?”, “Support”, etc.) and paste the code with the correct URLs into the text area, then click Save when done …

Text widget

Important

Note: Remember to test all URLs before pasting scripts into your Text Widget, or the clickable button will not work.

*** If using WordPress version pre-4.8 ***

If adding text with no formatting tags, you may want to tick the Automatically add paragraphs box to wrap each block of text in paragraphs (note: this is not necessary if you’re pasting in formatted HTML code like we’re using in the example for this tutorial).

Here is some text added to a Text widget with Automatically add paragraphs box unchecked …

Automatically add paragraphs option not checked

(Automatically add paragraphs box unchecked)

Here is some text added to a Text widget with Automatically add paragraphs option ticked …

Automatically add paragraphs box selected

(Automatically add paragraphs option checked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh your browser.

Once you have added your text widget and formatted content, go to your site and refresh your browser. If you have entered all of the links correctly, then the clickable support button should display in the sidebar menu …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To Your Sidebar Area

(Clickable button widget on blog sidebar)

The above screenshot shows the contact button in the sidebar of a newly-installed WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test your button.

The final step is to ensure that your destination link works. Test this by clicking on the support button. If you are taken directly to your contact page, then the text widget has been set up correctly …

Test the clickable button

(Test your text widget)

Useful Tip

Useful Tips:

If you would like your support page to display in a new window when visitors click on the support (so they don’t leave the page they’re on), then change the button code from this:

Add A Clickable Support Button To The Sidebar Menu Using A Text Widget

To this (i.e. add the part containing target=”_blank” in your html code):

Using A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To The Sidebar Navigation Menu - open in new window

When choosing images to add to your sidebar navigation menu, make sure that the width of the image doesn’t exceed the width of your sidebar column, especially if you are using a non-responsive WordPress theme. Note that some themes may display different column widths depending on their templates and layout. Some sidebars are wide and some are narrow. If the sidebar of your theme is narrower than the width of your button images, then you may have to either adjust the image size, or the column width to make the images display correctly on your theme.

Make sure the width of the image does not exceed the sidebar column width

(Adjust column width or reduce image size)

Additional Tips:

  • If you don’t want to center the image inside your sidebar, delete the <center> and </center> tags from the beginning and end of the code. The image will then be left-aligned.
  • Link the support button to any URL you want (e.g. to an external link, contact form, forum, etc.) and change this anytime by replacing the content inside your widget.

Configuring Widgets On Your Sidebar

***

This is the end of section 2 of this tutorial on using Widgets.

To continue, click here:

***

"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

***

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2.