How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To The WebsiteIn Part 1 of this tutorial series, we explained the basics of using widgets in WordPress.

In this tutorial you will configure several WordPress widgets.

How To Configure Frequently-Used WordPress Sidebar Widgets

By default, your site comes with a number of built-in active widgets, such as widgets for displaying links to your site’s pages, filter posts by categories, news items, adding a search box, etc.

In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with a number of built-in widgets

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

Adding Widgets To The Blog Sidebar: Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to add, configure and reorder a number of commonly-used WordPress widgets, including:

  • Adding a clickable Support Contact graphic linking to the contact details page.
  • Add a Categories section.
  • Add a Recent Posts section to display your latest posts.
  • Adding a list of the site’s main Pages.
  • Display useful Links on your sidebar.
  • Display news items with an RSS Feed section.
  • Add a list of clickable tags through a Tag Cloud section.
  • Add and configure an Archives section to your sidebar navigation section.

To access the Widgets area log into the WordPress admin and go to Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

This brings up the Widgets screen in your web browser …

Widgets Panel

(Widgets Area)

Let’s get started …

Adding Text Widgets To Your Sidebar

Text widgets are incredibly versatile …

Text widget

(WordPress Text widget)

Important

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 let you insert just about anything you want into the sidebar or other widget sections, such as instructions, images, reviews and more to your site … simply type in text or add 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 really versatile!)

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

For this example, we’ll set up a support button on your sidebar navigation section that will take 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 “help button” graphic image that you will want visitors to click on …

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

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

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

For example …

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

You will need this information in Step 3.

For visitors to be taken to the contact page when the help button is 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 your button graphic to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Create the contact page.

Create a contact page and note down its URL …

Using A Text Widget To Add A Support Button To The Sidebar Section

Step 3 – Create your text widget code.

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 the button image to the contact page.

Your code can be typed in a plain text editor and should look something like this …

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

  • 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 the sections of the above code that you will need to replace with your actual contact details …

Add A Clickable Help Button To Your Sidebar Navigation 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:

Now, go back to your Widgets panel …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag & drop

(Widgets Area)

Step 4 – Add a Text widget.

Add a Text widget to your sidebar where you would like the clickable button to display.

In the Available Widgets area, find a Text widget …

Text widget

(Text widget)

Drag your 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 your text widget settings.

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

WordPress text widget

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

WordPress text widget

Important Info

Note: Make sure to check 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 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’re typing in formatted content like we’re doing in this tutorial).

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

Automatically add paragraphs option not selected

(Automatically add paragraphs option not checked)

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

Automatically add paragraphs option ticked

(Automatically add paragraphs box ticked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh your browser.

After adding your text widget and HTML content, go to the front end of your site and refresh your web browser. If you have entered all of the links correctly, then the clickable support button will display in your site’s sidebar menu …

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

(Clickable support button widget on blog sidebar)

The above screenshot shows the support contact button in the sidebar of a newly-installed WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test your widget.

The final step is to make sure that the links work. Test your button to make sure that visitors will go to your support page when clicking the graphic image. If you are taken to the contact page, then everything has been set up correctly …

Test the clickable button

(Test your text widget to ensure you’ve set everything up correctly)

Tip

Useful Tips:

If you want your support 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 Help Button To The Sidebar Menu Using A Text Widget

To this (i.e. add the section that says: target=”_blank” in the code):

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

When choosing images for 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. As we’ve previously explained, some themes can display elements differently depending on their templates and their 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 need to either adjust the size of your images, or the column width to make elements display correctly on your sidebar.

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

(Adjust column width or reduce image size)

Additional Tips:

  • If you don’t want the button 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 support button to any destination you like (e.g. to an external site, contact form, forum, etc.) and change this anytime by replacing the links in the widget.

How To Add WordPress Widgets To The Sidebar

***

This is the end of section two of this tutorial about how to use WordPress widgets.

Click here to keep reading:

***

"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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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.