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 tutorial series, we cover the basics of using widgets in WordPress.

In this tutorial you are going to learn how to begin configuring various commonly-used sidebar widgets in WordPress.

Sidebar Widget Configuration

By default, your site comes with a number of preinstalled widgets that can be used out of the box with little to no configuration required, such as widgets that let you display links to your site’s pages, recent posts, news items, add search features, etc.

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

(In a default WordPress installation, your site comes with several built-in widgets)

Configuring Commonly-Used WordPress Sidebar Widgets: Step-By-Step Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial series, we are going to add, configure and reorder various WordPress widgets, including:

  • Add a Support image linking visitors to the contact page.
  • Add a Categories section with a drop down menu.
  • Adding a Recent Posts section.
  • Adding a list of Pages.
  • Display useful Links on your sidebar navigation section.
  • Display a newsfeed using an RSS Feed section.
  • Add a Tag Cloud.
  • Configure how Archived Posts display on your sidebar navigation area.

To use widgets, access the Widgets panel located inside your WP admin by going to Appearance > Widgets

Understanding WordPress For Newbies: About WordPress Widgets

(WordPress Widgets Menu)

This brings you to the Widgets panel into your browser …

Widgets Screen

(Widgets Screen)

Let’s get started …

Adding Text Widgets To The Sidebar

Text widgets are versatile …

Text widget

(Text widget)

Useful Information

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 navigation area or other widget sections, such as quotes, maps and directions, scripts and more to your site … simply by typing in text or inserting HTML into the widget content area. You can also give the widget a title. Remember to save your settings …

Text widgets are really useful

(A text widget is very useful!)

Example: Use A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Help Button To Your Sidebar Section

For this example, let’s set up a clickable contact button on the 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 your visitors can click on …

Add A Clickable Contact Button To Your Sidebar Area Using A Text Widget

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

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

Step 1 – Upload your image.

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

For example …

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

You will use this information in Step 3.

For someone to go to your contact page when they click on the graphic button, 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 – Add your destination page.

Create a contact page and note down its URL …

Using A Text Widget To Add A Help Button To The Sidebar Navigation Section

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

Don’t worry … this sounds a lot more technical than it is. Basically, you just need to create the instructions for your clickable image.

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

Using A Text Widget To Add A Clickable Contact Button To Your Sidebar Area

  • 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 above with the URL of your image location.

The screenshot below shows which sections of the above sample code you will need to replace with your actual web addresses …

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

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

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

Next, go back into your Widgets section …

Activate or deactivate widgets using drag-and-drop

(Widgets Area)

Step 4 – Add a Text widget.

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

In the Available Widgets area, select the Text widget …

WordPress text widget

(Text widget)

Drag the 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 the widget.

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

WordPress 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 destination links into the Content box, then click Save when done …

Text widget

Info

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

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

If adding text with no formatting tags, you may want to tick the Automatically add paragraphs box to wrap each block of text in an HTML paragraph code (note: this is not necessary if you type in formatted HTML code like we’re doing in this tutorial).

Here is some text added to a Text widget with Automatically add paragraphs box not checked …

Automatically add paragraphs option not selected

(Automatically add paragraphs option not ticked)

Here is some text with Automatically add paragraphs option ticked …

Automatically add paragraphs box ticked

(Automatically add paragraphs box checked)

***

Step 6 – Refresh your web browser.

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

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

(Clickable button widget on blog sidebar)

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

Step 7 – Test the widget.

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

Test the text widget

(Test your clickable button)

Practical Tip

Tips:

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

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

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

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

When choosing images for your sidebar navigation menu, make sure that the width of the image doesn’t exceed the width of the sidebar column, especially if you are using a non-responsive WordPress theme. As mentioned earlier, some themes can display different column widths 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 your button images, then you may need to either adjust the size of your images, or the column width to make elements display correctly on your sidebar.

Adjust column width or reduce image size

(Adjust column width or reduce image size)

More Tips:

  • If you don’t want the button image 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 the contact button to any URL you like (e.g. to an external site, helpdesk, forum, etc.) and change this anytime by editing the code in your widget.

Adding WordPress Widgets To The Sidebar Navigation Section

***

This is the end of part 2 of this tutorial.

To keep reading, click this link:

***

"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

***

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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.