How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

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Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your SiteIn Part 1 of this tutorial, we cover the basics of using widgets in WordPress.

In this tutorial you are going to configure several sidebar widgets in WordPress.

Configuring Widgets

By default, your site comes with several preinstalled widgets that can be used out of the box with little to no configuration required, such as widgets for displaying links to your site’s pages, recent posts, text or HTML banners, adding tag clouds, etc.

By default, your site comes with several built-in widgets

(By default, your site comes with several preinstalled widgets)

How To Configure Commonly-Used WordPress Widgets On Your Sidebar: Tutorial

In this tutorial, we are going to add, configure and reorder a number of frequently-used WordPress widgets to display in the site’s sidebar section, including:

  • Add a Support Contact image linking visitors to your contact page.
  • Add a Categories section.
  • Add a Recent Posts section to display your latest posts.
  • Adding a list of Pages.
  • Display Links on the sidebar menu.
  • Adding an RSS Feed section.
  • Add a Tag Cloud.
  • Configure how your Archived Posts display on the sidebar area.

The Widgets screen is located inside your WordPress dashboard and can be accessed from the dashboard menu by choosing Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(Widgets Menu)

This brings up the Widgets panel in your browser …

Widgets Panel

(Widgets Screen)

Let’s start by configuring a WordPress text widget …

Add A Text Widget

Text widgets are versatile …

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 lets you insert just about anything you want into the sidebar or other widget sections, such as policies, images, special promotions and more to your site … simply type in text or insert HTML into the widget content area. You can also give the widget a title. Remember to save your settings …

Text widgets are really versatile

(A text widget is extremely versatile!)

Example: Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Help Button To Your Sidebar Menu

For this example, let’s set up a clickable support button on your sidebar that will take 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 …

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

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

Use A Text Widget To Add A Help Button To Your Sidebar Area

Step 1 – Upload your image.

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

For example …

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 support button is clicked, 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 and note down its URL …

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

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. In simple terms, we just need to create the instructions linking your button image to the destination URL.

Your instructions can be composed in a simple text file and should look something like this …

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

  • 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 need to replace with your actual contact page and image URLs …

Using A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To The Sidebar Navigation Section

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

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

Next, go back to your Widgets section …

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 button should display.

In the Available Widgets area, find a Text widget …

Text widget

(WordPress text widget)

Drag your 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 your widget.

Click on the widget title bar to configure its settings. 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 the widget if you want (e.g. “Need Help?”, “Get Help”, etc.) and paste the code with the correct URLs into the Content area, then click Save when done …

Text widget

Info

Note: Make sure to check all URLs before pasting scripts into your Text Widget, or the button will not work.

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

If adding text without formatting tags, you may want to tick the Automatically add paragraphs box to wrap each block of text in an HTML paragraph code (note: not required if you’re typing in HTML code like we’re doing in this tutorial).

Here is some text added to a Text widget with Automatically add paragraphs option not selected …

Automatically add paragraphs option not ticked

(Automatically add paragraphs option not selected)

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

Automatically add paragraphs box checked

(Automatically add paragraphs box ticked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh the browser.

After adding your widget and code, visit your site and refresh the browser. If all links have been entered correctly, then the clickable support button will display in your sidebar menu …

Using A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Contact Button To The Sidebar Navigation Area

(Clickable button widget on blog sidebar)

The screenshot above shows ’click for help’ button in the sidebar of a newly-installed WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test the button.

The final step is to ensure that the links work. Test this by clicking on the graphic button. You should be taken to your contact page …

Test your text widget to ensure you've set everything up correctly

(Test your clickable button)

Useful Tip

Text Widgets – Useful Tips:

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

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

To this (i.e. include the part containing target=”_blank” in your text widget code):

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

When choosing images for your sidebar navigation 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 can display elements differently depending on their templates and layout. Some sidebars may be wider or narrower. If your theme’s sidebar width is narrower than the width of the graphic image, then you may have to either adjust the graphic size, or the width of your sidebar column to make images display correctly on your sidebar area.

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

(Adjust column width or reduce image size)

Additional Tips:

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

Adding Widgets To The WordPress Sidebar Navigation Menu

***

This is the end of part two of this tutorial series on using WordPress widgets.

To continue, click here:

***

"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com

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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.