In Part One of this step-by-step tutorial series, we cover the basics of how to use widgets in WordPress.
In this section you will learn how to configure several sidebar widgets in WordPress.
How To Configure Sidebar Widgets
By default, your site comes with several preinstalled widgets, such as widgets that let you display external links, recent posts, RSS feed content, adding site search features, etc.
(In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with a number of built-in widgets)
Configuring Frequently-Used WordPress Widgets On Your WordPress Sidebar Area: Step-By-Step Tutorial
In this tutorial, we are going to add, configure and reorder various WordPress widgets, including:
- Adding a clickable Help button linking to your contact details page.
- Add a Categories section with a drop down menu.
- Add a Recent Posts section to display your latest posts.
- Add a list of the site’s Pages.
- Display a list of useful Links on your sidebar section.
- Display newsfeeds with an RSS Feed section.
- Adding tag links with a Tag Cloud.
- Adding and configuring an Archives section to your sidebar.
The Widgets panel is located inside your admin area by going to Appearance > Widgets …
This opens the Widgets area into your browser …
Let’s get started …
Adding Text Widgets To The Blog Sidebar
Text widgets are incredibly versatile …
(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 instructions, images, news and updates and more to your site … just type in text or insert HTML into the content area. You can also give the widget a title. Remember to save your settings when done …
(A text widget is very useful!)
Example: Use A Text Widget To Add A Support Button To The Sidebar Section
For this example, we’ll set up a clickable contact button on your sidebar 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 will want your your visitors to click on …
We’ll set up the clickable button to display at the top of the sidebar like in the example shown below …
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 a folder on your server and note the URL pointing to your image location.
For example …
This information will be required in Step 3.
In order for visitors to be taken to your contact page when the graphic button is clicked, either create a contact page, or have an existing destination page already set up (e.g. a helpdesk). We will link your button image to this URL in Step 3 …
Step 2 – Add the support page.
Create a contact page on your site 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. In simple terms, you just need to create the instructions linking the graphic image to your contact page/helpdesk.
Your instructions can be typed in a plain text file and will look something like this …
- Replace “http://www.yourdomain.com/contact-us” in the code 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 the actual contact details …
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:
Next, go back to your Widgets section …
Step 4 – Add a Text widget.
Add a Text widget to your sidebar where you want your clickable button to display.
In the Available Widgets area, select the Text widget …
(WordPress text widget)
Drag your Text widget to your Active Widgets section and release the widget at the very top of the Widget Area …
(Dragging and dropping your WordPress text widget)
Step 5 – Configure the widget.
Click on the widget title bar to configure the widget settings. Paste the code with the links to your contact page and graphic button into your text widget content area and click save …
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 large text box, then click Save when done …
Note: Remember to check your contact page and button image URLs before pasting scripts into the Text Widget, or your button won’t work.
*** If using WordPress version pre-4.8 ***
If you’re adding text without formatting tags like paragraph breaks, you may want to tick the Automatically add paragraphs box to wrap each block of text in paragraphs (note: this is not necessary if you’re pasting in formatted HTML code like we’re using in the example for this tutorial).
Here is some text added to a Text widget with Automatically add paragraphs box not checked …
(Automatically add paragraphs option unchecked)
Here is some text added to a Text widget with Automatically add paragraphs option ticked …
(Automatically add paragraphs option selected)
Step 6 – Refresh the web browser.
Once you have added your text widget and HTML content, go to your site and refresh the browser. If you have entered all of the links correctly, then the clickable support button should display at the top of the sidebar menu …
(Clickable button widget on sidebar)
The above screenshot shows the support contact button added to a newly-installed WordPress site.
Step 7 – Test the button.
The final step is to make sure that your links work. Test this by clicking the button. You should be taken to the support page …
(Test your clickable button)
Text Widgets – Useful Tips:
If you would like a new browser window to open up when visitors go to the contact page (so they don’t leave the page they’re in), then change the text widget code from this:
To this (i.e. insert the section containing target=”_blank” in your text widget code):
When choosing images for your sidebar navigation section, make sure that the width of the image does not exceed the width of the sidebar column, especially if you are using a non-responsive WordPress theme. As mentioned earlier, some themes may display elements differently depending on their templates and layout. Some sidebars may be too wide or too narrow. If your theme’s sidebar is narrower than the width of the graphic images, then you may need to either adjust the graphic size, or the column width to make images display correctly on your sidebar.
(Adjust column width or reduce image size)
- 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 line of 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, forum, etc.) and change this anytime by editing the links inside your widget.
This is the end of section two of this tutorial on using WordPress widgets.
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