How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

Using WidgetsIn Part One of this step-by-step tutorial, we cover the basics of how to use WordPress widgets.

In this section you will begin configuring several WordPress widgets.

How To Configure Sidebar Widgets

By default, your site comes with a number of pre-installed active widgets, such as widgets that let you display links to your site’s pages, recent posts, newsfeeds, add a search box, etc.

By default, your site comes with a number of pre-installed widgets

(By default, your site comes with a number of built-in widgets)

Adding Widgets To The Blog Sidebar Navigation Area: Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial series, you are going to add, configure and reorder s number of widgets, including:

  • Add a Help button linking to the support page.
  • Adding a Categories section.
  • Adding a Recent Posts section to display your latest posts.
  • Add a list of your site’s main Pages.
  • Display a list of useful Links on the sidebar navigation area.
  • Displaying news items using an RSS Feed section.
  • Add a Tag Cloud.
  • Configure how your Archived Posts display on your sidebar.

The Widgets area is located in your WP administration area and can easily be accessed from the admin menu by going 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 begin by learning how to configure a WordPress text widget …

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)

Text widgets can be used to add email and contact information, videos, tips and more to your site … just type in text or paste HTML into the widget content area. You can also add an optional title in the Title field. Remember to save your settings …

A text widget is very useful

(A text widget is really useful!)

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

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

For example …

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

This information will be used in Step 3.

In order for visitors to go 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 your button graphic to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Create a contact page.

Create a contact page and note the page URL …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To The Sidebar Menu

Step 3 – Create the HTML code for your text widget.

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

Your code can be typed into a plain text file and will look something like this …

Add A Help Button To The Sidebar Navigation 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 image below shows the sections of the above sample code that you will need to replace with your actual web addresses …

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

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

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

Next, go back into your Widgets panel …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Widgets Screen)

Step 4 – Add a Text widget.

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

In the Available Widgets area, find a Text widget …

WordPress text widget

(WordPress text widget)

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

Dragging and dropping your WordPress text widget

(Dragging and dropping your WordPress text widget)

Step 5 – Configure the widget.

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

WordPress text widget

Useful Information

Note: Remember to check your contact page and button image links before pasting scripts into your Text Widget, or the clickable button won’t 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 an HTML paragraph code (note: not required if you paste in formatted HTML content like we’re doing in this tutorial).

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

Automatically add paragraphs option not checked

(Automatically add paragraphs option not ticked)

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs box selected …

Automatically add paragraphs option checked

(Automatically add paragraphs option selected)

***

Step 6 – Refresh the web browser.

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

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

(Clickable button widget on sidebar)

The screenshot above shows a clickable button in the sidebar of a brand new WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test your widget.

The final step is to ensure that your destination URL works. Test the button to make sure that your visitors will go to the help page when they click on the graphic image. If you are taken to the support page, then your text widget has been set up correctly …

Test the text widget

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

Practical Tip

Tips:

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

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

To this (i.e. insert the section containing target=”_blank” in the text widget code):

Add A Support Button To Your Sidebar Navigation Menu Using A Text Widget - open in new window

When inserting images into your sidebar navigation menu, 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 image, then you may have to either adjust the graphic size, or the width of your sidebar column to make graphics display correctly on your theme.

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

(Adjust column width or reduce image size)

Extra Tips:

  • If you don’t want the button 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.
  • Link the support button to any URL you like (e.g. to an external site, contact form, FAQ page, etc.) and change this anytime by replacing the content in your text widget.

Using Widgets

***

This is the end of section two of this series of tutorials on using WordPress widgets.

Click on this link to view Part 3:

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"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now

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