In 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.
(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 …
(WordPress Widgets Menu)
This loads the Widgets screen in your browser …
Let’s start configuring some widgets …
Text widgets are incredibly useful …
(WordPress Text widget)
Rich Text Widget
From version 4.8 onward, WordPress has added native rich-text editing capabilities to text widgets …
(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 …
(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 …
We’ll set up a clickable Help button to display at the top of the sidebar section like in the example shown below …
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 …
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 …
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 …
- 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 …
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 …
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 …
Drag the Text widget to the Active Widgets section and release the widget at the top of the Widget Area …
(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 …
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 …
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 option not checked)
Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs option checked …
(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 …
(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 text widget)
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:
To this (i.e. include the part containing target=”_blank” in your text widget code):
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.
(Make sure that the width of the image does not exceed the width of the sidebar column)
- 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.
This is the end of section two of this series of tutorials.
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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)
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