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 Your SidebarIn Part 1 of this step-by-step tutorial, we explained the basics of how to use widgets in WordPress.

In this section you will begin configuring several WordPress sidebar widgets.

How To Configure Sidebar Widgets

In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with a number of preinstalled active widgets, such as widgets for displaying links to your site’s pages, recent posts, RSS feed content, add search features, etc.

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

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

How To Set Up Sidebar Widgets In WordPress In WordPress: Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial series, you will learn how to add, configure and reorder various widgets to display in the site’s sidebar, including:

  • Adding a Support Contact graphic linking to your contact details page.
  • Add a Categories section.
  • Adding a Recent Posts section.
  • Adding a list of the site’s Pages.
  • Display useful Links on your sidebar navigation menu.
  • Adding an RSS Feed section.
  • Adding tag links using a Tag Cloud.
  • Adding and configuring an Archives section to the sidebar.

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

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(Widgets Menu)

This opens the Widgets screen in your browser …

Widgets Section

(Widgets Screen)

Let’s start to configure some widgets …

Adding Text Widgets

Text widgets are 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)

A text widget lets you insert just about anything you want into the sidebar or other widget sections, such as instructions, videos, tips and more to your site … just type in text or paste 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

(Text widgets are very useful!)

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

For this example, we’ll set up a support button on the sidebar navigation menu that will take 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 graphic image that you can use on your own site …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Help Button To Your Sidebar Menu

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

To display the clickable image on your site, the graphic image must be uploaded to your server. Upload your button image to your server and write down the URL pointing to your image location.

For example …

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

You will need this information in Step 3.

In order for someone to be taken to your contact page when the support button is clicked, either create a contact page, or have an existing destination page already set up (e.g. a helpdesk). We will then link your button image to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Add your contact page.

Create a contact page and note down its URL …

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

Step 3 – Create the 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. In simple terms, you just need to create the instructions for your clickable image.

Your code can be typed in a simple text file and will look something like this …

Using A Text Widget To Add A Help Button To Your 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 above with the URL of your image location.

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

Add A Contact Button To Your Sidebar Navigation Area 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:

Now, 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 in the location where the support button should display.

In the Available Widgets area, find the Text widget …

WordPress text widget

(Text widget)

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

Dragging and dropping your Text widget

(Drag and drop your WordPress text widget)

Step 5 – Configure the text widget settings.

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

Text widget

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

WordPress text widget

Useful Information

Note: Make sure to check your contact page and image URLs before pasting scripts into your Text Widget, or your 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 type in formatted HTML code like we’re using in the example for this tutorial).

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

Automatically add paragraphs option unchecked

(Automatically add paragraphs box not ticked)

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs option checked …

Automatically add paragraphs option ticked

(Automatically add paragraphs box ticked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh your web browser.

Once you have added the widget and HTML code, go to your site and refresh the web browser. If all links have been entered correctly, then your support button should display at the top of the site’s sidebar menu …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Help Button To The Sidebar Menu

(Clickable support button widget on blog sidebar)

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

Step 7 – Test your widget.

The last step is to ensure that your destination URL works. Test this by clicking on the graphic button. If you are taken directly to the support page, then your text widget has been set up correctly …

Test the text widget

(Test your text widget)

Useful Tip

Tips:

If you want the contact page to display in 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 Your Sidebar Navigation Area Using A Text Widget

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

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

When inserting images into your sidebar menu, make sure that the width of the image does not exceed the width of your sidebar column, especially if you are using a non-responsive WordPress theme. Note that some themes can display elements differently 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 the graphic image, then you may need to either adjust the image size, or the width of your sidebar column to make elements display correctly on your sidebar.

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

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

Additional Tips:

  • If you don’t want to center the image inside the sidebar, delete the <center> and </center> tags from the beginning and end of the code. The image will then align to the left.
  • You can link the contact button to any URL you like (e.g. to an external link, contact form, support forum, etc.) and change this anytime by replacing the content inside the widget.

Adding Widgets To Your Sidebar Section

***

This is the end of section 2 of this series of tutorials about using WordPress widgets.

Click here to continue:

***

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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 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.