Customizing WordPress Sidebar

WordPress is used by more than 60 million people globally to create eye-catching and functional websites. It is very flexible and can be customized manually through editing the code. This is one of the beauties of this platform. Another feature that makes WordPress stand out from other blogging platforms is the sidebar.

Found on almost any WordPress websites, sidebar is placed either on the right or left- side of the page, although at times, a website can have two sidebars, one on every side of the primary article where the posts are found.

Formerly, the primary purpose of sidebars was to provide navigation help for users, a function that continues to date. These navigations are designed to assist people navigate your website and find the kind of information they need with ease.

The navigation items include pages, categories, archives, and posts. There is also another navigational tool known as search whose main purpose is to help visitors find whatever they are looking for effortlessly.

The very first information in a standard WordPress installation is the full list of Pages or Categories. Listed Pages help visitors find information regarding a particular website, such as About Us, Site Map, Contact, Register, to name but a few.

Is sidebar customizable?

A simple answer to this question is, yes. Sidebar features for WordPress are very customizable. Actually, users can create and customize several sidebars or websites sections to appear on various pages.

Depending on your preference, the sidebar might include your main navigation, links to multiples pages as well an email sign up form. Also, you may want to have the sidebar on the homepage a bit different from the sidebar on content pages. If you have just started a new WordPress blog, one thing you should be spending most time on is the sidebar.

A sidebar should be organized and self-flowing in order to deliver the best user experience.

Customizing WordPress Sidebar

One thing many users like about WordPress is the built-in widget system as it makes it easy to manage the sidebars of your website or blog. In previous WordPress versions, widgets didn’t exist.

Users had to edit code manually so as to make changes on the sidebars. Today, there are widgets that do make it easier to control the sidebar. Depending on the theme, one can also use widgets to manage other areas of the blog or website. For you to take full advantage of widget system, you have to know how to edit these widgets. The best thing about WordPress widgets is that they are easy to edit and anyone can master the technique.

For you to make use of widgets, your theme must have them coded in them. While almost every theme has them, there are those that don’t. First of all, navigate to the widgets area within the WordPress admin panel.

Click on Widgets and a screen with multiple options will pop up. Many screens will display all the available options on your left with Sidebar 1 on your right. You can have multiple sidebars based on how your theme is like. WordPress has several built in widgets like recent contents, comments, categories, search and tags.

To use these widgets, you just have to click and drop them to the sidebar area found on the right side of your screen. Then release your mouse button to drop the widget in a sidebar of your liking.

Some people may wish to edit their template theme manually. A theme will contain a sidebar php file that has the details that is displayed in that section. Users can manually edit this with code to appear the way they need on each of their pages. Although this is a bit intricate, some say that it will help load WordPress websites much faster because it’s not collecting all these widgets whenever users visit the website.

The best thing about widgets is that one can drop and drag them to ascertain the order in which they appear on the sidebar. They will show up in the same sequence you will arrange them within your screen.

For example, if you put a fresh comment right above a fresh post, expect them to appear like that. Additionally, every widget comes with a number of different options which users can configure. Each widget has an arrow which can expand when you click on it and will then give you more alternatives that can be customize for that specific widget.

What you Should Know

If you use WordPress, you probably have been tempted to change themes once in your life. However, if you have never, it’s even better because it is not something that you should do without knowing how it should be done.

There is more to changing themes than simply clicking on activate. If you change your WordPress theme, your sidebar may turn against you since each theme is coded in a different manner. Should you make any change, it’s advisable to adjust your sidebar to make it compatible with your new theme. While everything will work fine for the most part, sometimes adjustments are inevitable.

A lot of people use some kind of analytics instead of plugins to add tracking codes. Some just modify the codes in footer.php file. Whichever technique is employed, a user should copy and paste the tracking code to the new theme.

This is one area that’s usually overlooked by many users since it’s easy. Once you change the theme, make sure that you test all the functionality and plug-ins. Go back and insert any functionality that you wish to bring from an old theme into a new theme if you haven’t. Try out all features including the commenting process, search, single post pages, 404 page, archive page, contact page just to name a few.

Conclusion

While you may want to include everything, keep in mind that space is low in the sidebar. Hence, keep the number of things at an absolute minimum. Fewer options mean more actions and if you can put the options into actions that benefit your audience, do it.

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