How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

Using WidgetsIn 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 frequently-used sidebar widgets in WordPress.

Sidebar Widget Configuration

In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with a number of preinstalled active widgets, such as widgets that let you display links to your pages, filter posts by categories, text or HTML banners, filter content by tags, etc.

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

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

How To Set Up Commonly-Used WordPress Widgets On The Blog Sidebar: Step-By-Step Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial, we are going to add, configure and reorder various widgets to display in your site’s sidebar, including:

  • Adding a Support graphic button linking visitors to the help page.
  • Adding a Categories section.
  • Add a Recent Posts section.
  • Add a list of Pages.
  • Display important Links on your sidebar navigation menu.
  • Displaying news items with an RSS Feed section.
  • Adding a Tag Cloud section.
  • Configure how Archived Posts display on the sidebar section.

The Widgets area is located inside the WP dashboard and can easily be accessed from the WordPress admin menu by clicking on Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

This loads the Widgets panel in your web browser …

Widgets Area

(Widgets Panel)

Let’s start to configure some sidebar menu widgets …

Adding Text Widgets

Text widgets are quite useful …

WordPress Text widget

(WordPress Text widget)

Important 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)

Text widgets can be used to add email and contact information, videos, scripts and more to your site … just by typing in text or adding HTML into the content area. You can also give the widget a title. Remember to save your settings when done …

Text widgets are really useful

(A text widget is really versatile!)

Example: Use A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To The Sidebar Menu

For this example, let’s 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 visitors can click on …

Add A Clickable Help Button To Your Sidebar Menu Using A Text Widget

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

To display an image on your site, you must first upload the image to your server and note the address of your image location.

For example …

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

This information will be used in Step 3.

In order for visitors to be taken to your contact page when they click on the graphic button, you will need to either create a contact page, or have an existing destination page already set up (e.g. a helpdesk). We will then link the button graphic to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Create your contact page.

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

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

Step 3 – Create the HTML code for your text widget.

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 your graphic image to your contact page/helpdesk.

Your instructions can be typed into a simple text editor and should 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 with the URL of your contact page location.
  • Replace “http://yourimagelocation.com/img/supportbutton.jpg” in the code above with the URL of your image location.

The image below shows which sections of the above code you need to replace with your actual web addresses …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To The Sidebar Section

Replace the above URLs and then copy all of your text file content to your clipboard when finished.

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

Now, go back to your Widgets panel …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag and drop

(Widgets Screen)

Step 4 – Add a Text widget.

Add a Text widget to your sidebar in the location where your support button should display.

In the Available Widgets area, find a Text widget …

Text widget

(WordPress 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 Text widget

(Dragging and dropping your WordPress text widget)

Step 5 – Configure the text widget.

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

Text widget

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

Text widget

Useful Info

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

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

If adding text with no formatting tags like paragraph breaks, you may want to tick the Automatically add paragraphs box to wrap each block of text in paragraphs (note: not required if you type in formatted content like we’re doing in this tutorial).

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs option unchecked …

Automatically add paragraphs option not checked

(Automatically add paragraphs box not ticked)

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

Automatically add paragraphs option selected

(Automatically add paragraphs option checked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh the browser.

After adding the widget and content, go to the front-end of your site and refresh the web browser. If all links have been entered correctly, then your support button will display at the top of the site’s sidebar menu …

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

(Clickable support button widget on blog sidebar)

The screenshot above shows the support contact button added to a brand new WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test your button.

The final step is to make sure that the destination link works. Test your button to make sure that your visitors will go to your help page when they click on the graphic image. If you are taken to the support page, then your text widget has been set up correctly …

Test the text widget

(Test the text widget to make sure it works)

Practical Tip

Useful Tips:

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

Use A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To The Sidebar Menu

To this (i.e. insert the part that says: target=”_blank” in your code):

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

When adding images to your sidebar section, make sure that the width of the image doesn’t exceed the width of the sidebar column, especially if you are using a non-responsive WordPress theme. Note that some themes may display elements differently depending on their templates and layout. Some sidebars may be wider or narrower. If the sidebar of your theme is narrower than the width of your graphic image, then you may need to either adjust the size of your images, or the width of your sidebar column to make graphics display correctly on your sidebar area.

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

(Make sure that the width of the image does not exceed the width of the sidebar column)

Extra Tips:

  • If you don’t want the button to be centered in your sidebar, delete the <center> and </center> tags from the beginning and end of the code. The image will then be left-aligned.
  • You can link your help button to any destination you want (e.g. to an external site, contact form, FAQ page, etc.) and change this anytime by editing the content in your widget.

Using WordPress Widgets

***

This is the end of section 2 of this series of tutorials about using WordPress widgets.

Click on this link to access the rest of this tutorial:

***

"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. 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.