WordPress sidebar tutorial

WordPress Sidebar Tutorial

WordPress sidebar tutorial covers the important aspects and functions of your blog’s sidebar. As well, in this tutorial I will show you how to customize it, as I promised in the in the last tutorial. We’ll also examine the features and information modules (widgets) typically assigned to a sidebar on a new default WordPress installation.

WordPress sidebar content can be changed easily and this lesson aims at helping you feel more at ease adding and modifying the content of your newly installed blog’s sidebar.

What Is A WordPress Sidebar

A WordPress sidebar is the area of your blog that displays information which is different from the main content of your site. Typically sidebars are placed as narrow vertical columns on either side of the main content area.

Most WordPress themes offer at least one ready-made sidebar area, either on the left or right of the main content. A more elaborate theme may offer both types of sidebars for you to choose from. Some themes also offer “sidebars” that can be placed below the header, above the footer or within a footer.

Image 1. WordPress Sidebar Diagram

WordPress sidabar diagram

As shown in the diagram above, sidebar consists of modules or widgets that hold various types of information, including advertisements, newsletter optin boxes, search fields, social medial links and information, related posts and much more. (See the Home Page of my blog for an example: Blogging Spree)

Most bloggers only display one sidebar on their blogs. The favorite side is the right-hand side. The reason for this is that most of us read from left to right. Since content is (or should be) the main attraction of your blog, you want your readers to start reading the content first. However, how you choose to display your WordPress sidebar is really up to you.

How To Customize Default WordPress Sidebar

Your default WordPress installation comes with Twenty Fifteen theme. The sidebar on that theme is on the left hand side.

Image 2. Twenty Fifteen Default Theme Sidebar

Twenty Fifteen WordPress sidebar

In the theme tutorial, we switched the current default theme to Twenty Twelve theme, also developed by the WordPress team of developers. The sidebar is on the right hand side and for the reasons I mentioned above I chose the Twenty Twelve theme. It is used throughout the WordPress Tutorials.

Image 3. Twenty Twelve Default Theme Sidebar

Twenty Twelve WordPress sidebar


In both of the default themes the sidebars come pre-loaded with information modules (widgets).

The following widgets are included on both themes:

  1. Search – allows readers to search topics on your site.
  2. Recent Posts – automatically generated links most recent posts. By default it is set on 5 posts but it is easily changed to any number you choose.
  3. Recent Comments – indicative of activity that takes place on your blog.
  4. Archives – a list of old posts. This one is definitely unnecessary
  5. Categories – list of all posts categories. It is a good widget to keep at the beginning of blogging
  6. Meta – links to outside resources (other blog, references and so on). For now delete it. Later on you may want to add some links to outside resources, ab you can create a widget with a different name, such as resources.

I am going to delete “Archives” and “Meta”.  Now I will show you an easy way to delete some of these widgets from your default sidebar.

1. In your Home Dashboard click on “Appearance” to expand it it.

2. Click on “Customize” to access the theme customizing dashboard

3. In theme customizing dashboard click on “Widgets”

Image 4. Click on “Widgets”

customize WordPress sidebar

When you click on widgets you’ll come to Main Sidebar screen (shown below).

Step 4. Click on Main Sidebar down arrow to expand the screen

Image 5. Expand Main Sidebar

main sidebar customize widgets

Step 5. Select unwanted widgets to delete

Image 6. Click on down arrows of unwanted widgets

deleting sidebar widgets

We do not want the Archive and Meta widgets on the sidebar and we are going to delete them. The down arrows will bring us to a screen where we can finally remove them.

Step 6. Delete unwanted widgets from the sidebar

Image 7. Remove Archives widget

remove archives sidebar widget

Click on “Remove” to delete the Archives widget. You can do the same for the Meta widget.

Note! Don’t worry if by mistake you delete a widget from the sidebar area. In the Widgets Tutorial I will show you how to add and delete widgets from the actual Widgets dashboard and not from this Customize dashboard. It’s amazingly simple!

So now let’s have a look at our “new” WordPress Sidebar.

Image 8. New Sidebar “Look”

cutomized WordPress sidebar Twenty Twelve


So this is how far we are going to take it today. But the WordPress sidebar is much more versatile that what I showed you today. The versatility is possible with different types of widgets available to you in the widgets area. There are many widgets to select from and they are very easy to use.

Throughout this WordPress Sidebar tutorial, I mentioned “widgets” a lot. As I said, they are the “magical” modules that help us customize the sidebar and offer our readers specific information of our choice. I will go over widgets in a later tutorial.

Next Tutorial: WordPress Categories

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