How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

Adding And Configuring WordPress Widgets In Your Sidebar SectionIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we cover the basics of using widgets in WordPress.

In this section you are going to configure various WordPress widgets.

Configuring Frequently-Used WordPress Sidebar Widgets

By default, your site comes with a number of preinstalled widgets that can be used out of the box with minimal to no configuration needed, such as widgets that let you display links to your site’s pages, recent posts, newsfeeds, add search features, etc.

By default, your site comes with a number of preinstalled widgets

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

How To Add And Configure Widgets On The Sidebar Navigation Area: Step-By-Step Tutorial

In this tutorial series, you are going to learn how to add, configure and reorder a number of frequently-used widgets, including:

  • Adding a Help graphic button linking visitors to the help page.
  • Add a Categories section with a drop down menu.
  • Adding a Recent Posts section to display the latest posts.
  • Add a list of Pages.
  • Display important Links on the sidebar section.
  • Displaying newsfeeds using an RSS Feed section.
  • Add a Tag Cloud section.
  • Configure how Archived Posts display on your sidebar.

The Widgets area is located in your WP admin area and can be easily accessed by going to Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(Widgets Menu)

This loads the Widgets section in your web browser …

Widgets Area

(Widgets Panel)

Let’s get started …

Add A Text Widget

Text widgets are incredibly useful …

WordPress Text widget

(WordPress Text widget)

A text widget lets you insert just about anything you want into the sidebar navigation area or other widget sections, such as single lines or paragraphs of text, maps and directions, tips and more to your site … simply type in text or add HTML into the content area. You can also give the widget a title. Remember to save your settings …

Text widgets are very useful

(Text widgets are very useful!)

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

For this example, we’ll set up a help button on the sidebar area that takes 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 “help button” graphic image that you will want your visitors to click on …

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

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

To display the clickable button image on your site, the image must be uploaded to your server. Upload your button image to the images folder in your server and note down the address of your image location.

For example …

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

This information will be required in Step 3.

For someone to go to the contact page when the help button gets 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 image to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Create a support page.

Create a contact page and note its URL …

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

Step 3 – Create your text widget code.

Don’t worry … this sounds a lot more technical than it is. Basically, we just need to create the instructions for your clickable button.

Your instructions can be typed into a simple text file and should look something like this …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Contact Button To Your Sidebar Navigation Section

  • 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 above with the URL of your image location.

The image below shows the sections of the above code that you need to replace with the actual contact page and image URLs …

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

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

If you need help figuring out basic HTML code, refer to this tutorial: Using Formatting Content Using HTML In WordPress

Now, go back into your Widgets section …

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 the support button to display.

In the Available Widgets area, select a Text widget …

WordPress text widget

(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

(Drag and drop your Text widget)

Step 5 – Configure your text widget settings.

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

WordPress text widget

Add a title to the widget if you want (e.g. “Need Help?”, “Support”, etc.) and paste the code with the correct destination links into the Content area, then click the save button …

Text widget

Info

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

Also, 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 an HTML paragraph code (note: not required if you paste in formatted content like we’re doing in this tutorial).

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs option not ticked …

Automatically add paragraphs box unchecked

(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 checked

(Automatically add paragraphs box ticked)

Step 6 – Refresh your browser.

After adding your text widget and content, visit the front end of your site and refresh your web browser. If you have entered all of the links correctly, then your support button should display at the top of your sidebar menu …

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

(Clickable support button widget on sidebar)

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

Step 7 – Test the widget.

The final step is to make sure that the links work. Test this by clicking on the help button. If you are taken directly to the contact page, then the text widget has been set up correctly …

Test your clickable button

(Test the clickable button to make sure you’ve set everything up correctly)

Tip

Useful Tips:

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

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

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

Using A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To The Sidebar Navigation Area - open in new window

When adding images to your sidebar area, make sure that the width of your image doesn’t exceed the width of your sidebar column, especially if you are using a non-responsive WordPress theme. Note that some themes can display different column widths 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 images, then you may have to either adjust the size of your images, or the width of your sidebar column to make graphics display correctly on your theme.

Make sure that 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 the button image to be centered inside the sidebar, delete the <center> and </center> tags from the beginning and end of the HTML code. The image will then be aligned to its default settings (normally left-aligned).
  • Link your contact button to any URL you like (e.g. to an external site, helpdesk, forum, etc.) and change this anytime by editing the code in your widget.

How To Add Widgets To The WordPress Blog Sidebar

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This is the end of part two of this tutorial series.

Click on this link to access Part Three: Using Widgets – Part 3

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

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