WordPress Sidebars: How To Add, Edit & Design Your Website Sidebars

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WordPress sidebars are a valuable addition to any website! Just like your website footer, they give you a convenient place on your website to display all sorts of cool information.

The beauty of sidebars is that you can set them up once, and the information you add will automatically be displayed on every page of your website that has a sidebar. So easy and convenient!

In this article, we’ll go through the ins and outs of WordPress sidebars, so that you can make the most of this handy feature. We’ll go over what sidebars are, how to create and customize them, as well as how to use widgets to enhance them.

Let’s begin!

What Is A Sidebar?

A sidebar is a space that is typically found on either the left or right-hand side of a webpage or app. It is usually separate from the main content area and it offers a convenient place to add extra information, content, or dynamic functionality such as important links, adverts, subscription forms, etc.

Sidebars keep important content on the screen, even when your website visitors navigate from page to page.

Things To Include In Your WordPress Sidebar

In WordPress, you use widgets to add content to your sidebar.

Widgets are small blocks of content that can be added to different areas of your website such as the header, footer, and of course the sidebars.

To make the best of the space in your sidebar, WordPress comes with a number of handy widgets that you can add to create content for your sidebar. By using widgets you can easily add the following content to your sidebar:

  • Search box
  • List of recent posts
  • List of recent comments
  • List of categories
  • A tag cloud
  • Testimonials
  • Subscription form
  • Adverts
  • Promotions
  • Product recommendations
  • Bio boxes
  • Contact information
  • Social media icons or your latest social media posts

Caution! Just because you have the space to add all sorts of cool sidebar goodies, doesn’t mean you should overdo it!

Sidebars can easily become cluttered and distracting if they contain too much information. They can divert your visitor’s attention away from your main content which can lead to a poor user experience.

As they say, less is more.

How To Add Content To A Sidebar In WordPress

Depending on what WordPress theme you are using, you could have one or more sidebars available to use.

If you have been following along with my tutorials, you will know that we are using the Blocksy theme. The Blocksy theme comes with one sidebar which can either be displayed on the left-hand side or right-hand side of your website.

However, regardless of which WordPress theme you are using, you will be able to see how many sidebars you have available by visiting the Widgets dashboard.

How To Find Widgets In WordPress

In WordPress, the widgets dashboard is found under the “Appearance” menu item on the WordPress admin panel.

The Widgets Menu Item
Widgets Menu Item

When the Widgets dashboard opens, you will see all the widget areas that your WordPress theme has.

If you are using the Blocksy theme you will see that there is one main sidebar widget area along with six footer widget areas as well as an “Inactive Widgets” area.

The Blocksy Theme Widget Areas
The Blocksy Theme Widget Areas

How To Add Widgets To Your Sidebar

Widgets are a really powerful tool and although they seem complicated it is pretty easy to add them to your sidebar.

I’ve created a full tutorial on how to add, edit and delete widgets from your sidebar and other widget areas, check it out here: Learn How To Use WordPress Widgets In 5 Minutes.

In that tutorial, we added a search box and calendar to our WordPress sidebar.

Tip! Sometimes WordPress will lose the widgets that you have added to your sidebar if you change themes. If you need to change themes and you lose your widgets, you should be able to find them under “Inactive Widgets“.

How To Add A Sidebar In WordPress

When using WordPress, your sidebar options will change depending on what theme you are using.

However, regardless of the theme you have installed, you will be able to access your sidebar options from the WordPress theme customizer (from the WordPress admin dashboard go to “Appearance“, and “Customize“). When the customizer opens you should find menu options for “Sidebars” and/or “Widgets“.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to set up your sidebars using the Blocksy Theme.

When using the Blocksy theme you will be able to specify whether you would like to use sidebars on your pages and/or posts. Typically, most people use sidebars only for their posts and not on their pages but this is entirely up to you! Yay for options 🙂

How To Add A Sidebar To A WordPress Page

To add a sidebar to your WordPress page you must go to the “Pages” menu item in the customizer – you will find it in the “Post Types” section of the menu.

Blocksy Theme Pages Menu Item
Blocksy Theme Pages Menu Item

When the Page dashboard opens you will see a section called “Page Structure“. Here you will be able to select the default layout for all your pages including whether you would like a sidebar or not. If you would like a sidebar, you can choose whether it should be left or right-aligned.

Blocksy Page Customization Options
Blocksy Page Customization Options

How To Add A Sidebar To A Blog Page

Your blog page is where all your posts will be displayed, usually in chronological order with your latest posts first.

If you have a blog page on your website, then you can easily choose whether you would like a sidebar or not. Adding the sidebar is easy with the Blocksy theme.

Click on the “Blog Posts” menu item in the customizer.

In the “Blog Structure” section click the “Design” tab. In the “Page Elements” section, you can turn your blog sidebar on and off.

To preview what your changes will look like click on the “Blog” menu item in the header menu.

How To Add A Sidebar To A WordPress Blog
How To Add A Sidebar To A WordPress Blog

How To Add A Sidebar To A WordPress Post

It is just as easy to choose a sidebar for your WordPress posts. Under the “Post Types” section, select the “Single Post” menu item and then choose the layout you would like.

How To Add A Sidebar To  A WordPress Post
How To Add A Sidebar To A WordPress Post

How To Change The WordPress Sidebar Design

To change the design of your WordPress sidebar, go to the “Sidebar” menu item. Here you will see four sidebar designs that you can choose from along with other settings such as the sidebar width and spacing.

Each of the four sidebar designs can be customized by clicking the “Design” tab.

Let’s go ahead and change our sidebar to “Type 4”, a cool sidebar layout with a background color that covers the whole sidebar.

How To Change The Design Of A WordPress Sidebar
How To Change The Color Of The WordPress Sidebar

Conclusion

As you have seen, it is pretty straightforward to use and customize WordPress sidebars! And with a little practice and experimentation, you will be a WordPress sidebar pro in no time!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any questions, I’m one comment away.

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