How To Use And Configure WordPress Widgets – Part 2

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

How To Use WordPress WidgetsIn Part 1 of this tutorial series, we explained the basics of using widgets in WordPress.

In this section you will begin configuring various widgets in WordPress.

How To Configure Commonly-Used WordPress Sidebar Widgets

By default, your site comes with a number of pre-installed widgets, such as widgets that let you display external links, recent posts, text or HTML banners, adding tag clouds, etc.

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

(By default, your site comes with several active widgets)

How To Set Up Sidebar Widgets: Tutorial

In this tutorial series, you will add, configure and reorder a number of frequently-used WordPress widgets, including:

  • Add a clickable Help image linking visitors to your help page.
  • Adding a Categories section.
  • Adding a Recent Posts section to display your latest posts.
  • Add a list of the site’s Pages.
  • Display useful Links on the sidebar area.
  • Display news items with an RSS Feed section.
  • Add a Tag Cloud.
  • Adding and configuring an Archives section to the sidebar.

The Widgets section can be easily accessed inside the dashboard by going to Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(Widgets Menu)

This loads the Widgets screen in your browser …

Widgets Section

(Widgets Panel)

Let’s begin configuring your sidebar widgets …

Adding Text Widgets

Text widgets are incredibly versatile …

WordPress Text widget

(Text widget)

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, images, news and updates and more to your site … simply by typing in text or adding HTML into the widget content area. You can also add an optional title in the Title field. Remember to save your settings when done …

A text widget is extremely versatile

(Text widgets are really versatile!)

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

For this example, let’s set up a clickable contact 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, you will need to create or source a “help button” graphic image that you can use on your own site …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Support Button To Your Sidebar Navigation 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 Support Button To Your Sidebar Navigation Menu Using A Text Widget

Step 1 – Upload your image.

To display an image on your site, first you must upload the image to the images folder in your server and note the path to your image location.

E.g. …

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

You will need this information in Step 3.

For visitors to be taken to your contact page when they click on the graphic button, you must either create a contact page, or have an existing destination page already set up (e.g. a helpdesk). We will then link the button image to this URL in Step 3

Step 2 – Add the contact page.

Create a contact page and note its URL …

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

Step 3 – Create your text widget code.

Don’t worry … this sounds a lot more technical than it is. In simple terms, we just need to create the instructions linking the button image to your destination URL.

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

Add A Support Button To Your Sidebar Navigation Area 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 which sections of the above code you will need to replace with your actual contact details …

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

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

If you need help with basic HTML code, refer to this tutorial:

Now, go back into your Widgets panel …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Widgets Panel)

Step 4 – Add a Text widget.

Add a Text widget to your sidebar in the location where your button should display.

In the Available Widgets area, select a Text widget …

WordPress text widget

(WordPress text widget)

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

Dragging and dropping your Text widget

(Dragging and dropping your Text widget)

Step 5 – Configure your text widget.

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 save …

Text widget

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

WordPress text widget

Info

Note: Remember to test your contact page and image links before pasting scripts into your Text Widget, or the clickable button won’t work.

*** If using WordPress version pre-4.8 ***

If 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 pasting in HTML content like we’re doing in this tutorial).

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs box unchecked …

Automatically add paragraphs option not ticked

(Automatically add paragraphs option not checked)

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

Automatically add paragraphs option ticked

(Automatically add paragraphs box ticked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh your browser.

After adding your widget and code, go to the front-end of your site and refresh the web browser. If all links have been entered correctly, then your support button will display in the sidebar menu …

Use A Text Widget To Add A Help Button To Your Sidebar Section

(Clickable button widget on sidebar)

The above screenshot shows ’click for help’ button added to a newly-installed WordPress site.

Step 7 – Test the button.

The final step is to make sure that your destination link works. Test your button to make sure that your visitors will go to the help page when they click on the button. You should be taken directly to the contact page …

Test your clickable button

(Test your text widget)

Practical Tip

Tips:

If you would like a new browser window to open up when visitors go to your contact page (so they don’t leave the page they’re on), then change the code from this:

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

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

Use A Text Widget To Add A Contact Button To The Sidebar Section - open in new window

When inserting images into your sidebar area, make sure that the width of the 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 their layout. Some sidebars may be wider or narrower. If your theme’s sidebar is narrower than the width of your graphic images, then you may have to either adjust the size of your images, or the column width to make images display correctly on your theme.

Adjust column width or reduce image size

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

Additional Tips:

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

Adding WordPress Widgets To Your Blog

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This is the end of section 2 of this tutorial.

To view Part 3, click this link:

Get Thrive Leads for WordPress

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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)

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