How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

How To Add And Configure WordPress Widgets In Your SiteIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we explained the basics of how to use WordPress widgets.

In this section you will begin configuring a number of WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Configure Frequently-Used WordPress Widgets

By default, your site comes with a number of pre-installed widgets that can be used out of the box with minimal to no configuration required, such as widgets that let you display external links, recent posts, text or HTML banners, adding a search box, etc.

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

(By default, your site comes with a number of active widgets)

Configuring Sidebar Widgets In WordPress In WordPress: Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

  • Adding a Contact Us graphic button linking visitors to your contact details page.
  • Adding a Categories section.
  • Add a Recent Posts section to display the latest posts.
  • Adding a list of your site’s most important Pages.
  • Display useful Links on your sidebar.
  • Displaying news items using an RSS Feed section.
  • Add clickable tags with a Tag Cloud.
  • Adding and configuring an Archives section to the sidebar.

To use widgets, access the Widgets panel located inside your admin by going to Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

This loads the Widgets screen in your browser …

Widgets Panel

(Widgets Panel)

Let’s start configuring some widgets …

Text Widgets

Text widgets are incredibly 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)

A text widget can be used to add lists, images, scripts and more to your site … just by typing in text or inserting HTML into the widget content area. You can also give the widget a title. Remember to save your settings when done …

A text widget is very useful

(Text widgets are really useful!)

Example: Using A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To Your Sidebar Area

For this example, we’ll set up a contact 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, you will need to create or source a graphic image that you will use on your own site …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To Your Sidebar Navigation Menu

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

To display an image on your site, you must first upload the image to your server and write down the path to your image location.

For example …

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

You will need this information in Step 3.

In order for visitors to be taken to the contact page when the help button gets 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 then link the button graphic to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Add your destination page.

Create a contact page and note the page URL …

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

Step 3 – Compose 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 for your clickable button.

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

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

  • 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 sample code you need to replace with the actual web addresses …

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

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

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

Go back to your Widgets panel …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Widgets Area)

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 a Text widget …

Text widget

(Text widget)

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

Drag and drop your WordPress text widget

(Dragging and dropping your Text widget)

Step 5 – Configure the text widget.

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

Text widget

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

Text widget

Important Info

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

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

If you’re adding text without formatting tags, 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 HTML content 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 box unchecked

(Automatically add paragraphs option not checked)

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs option checked …

Automatically add paragraphs option selected

(Automatically add paragraphs box ticked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh your web browser.

Once you have added the text widget and code content, visit your site and refresh the web browser. If you have entered all of the links correctly, then the clickable support button will display at the top of the sidebar menu …

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

(Clickable button widget on sidebar)

The screenshot above shows a clickable button added to a newly-installed WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test your button.

The last step is to make sure that the links work. Test the button to make sure that visitors will go to your contact page when they click on the button. If you are taken directly to the support page, then the text widget has been set up correctly …

Test your clickable button

(Test your text widget)

Practical Tip

Useful Tips:

If you want a new browser window to open up when visitors click on your help button (so they don’t leave the page they’re on), then change the button code from this:

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

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

Using A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To Your Sidebar Section - open in new window

When choosing images for your sidebar navigation menu, 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. As mentioned earlier, some themes can display different column widths depending on their templates and layout. Some sidebars may be too wide or too narrow. If the sidebar of your theme is narrower than the width of your graphic image, then you may have to either adjust the size of your images, or the width of your sidebar column to make elements display correctly on your sidebar.

Adjust column width or reduce image size

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

Additional Tips:

  • If you don’t want your image to be centered inside 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 the support button to any URL you want (e.g. to an external site, helpdesk, support forum, etc.) and change this anytime by replacing the content inside the text widget.

Using Widgets

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This is the end of section two of this series of tutorials.

Click here to continue reading:

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

Disclaimer: This site has no direct association with WordPress, Automattic, or any of the WordPress products discussed on this website. We may derive an affiliate commission from the sale of products advertised, promoted or linked from this website. All images and information sourced from product websites are the copyright of their respective owners and comply with all license terms and agreements of use to the best of our knowledge.

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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 detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress to grow your business online at minimal cost with no coding skills required!

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