Sidebars are the relatively narrow columns down the left or right hand sides of a website page (and sometimes both sides of the page). Most websites will use Sidebars to add visual interest to the website pages and to display information that is relevant to particular parts of the website. They are very similar to Footers which run across the bottom of the website, but are vertical instead of horizontal.
WordPress themes will have Sidebars built into various pages of the website, and you will sometimes have the option of choosing between a full width page (no sidebars) or a page with Sidebars.
How to find out if you have Sidebars on your website:
- A simple way of finding out if you have sidebars available on your website is to look at a demo of the website theme your website has been built with. This will show examples of pages with sidebars and full width pages. Ask your website designer if you don’t know what theme was used to build your website.
- Go to the Pages menu item and open one of your pages. On the right hand side under the Publish button there will be a section called Page Attributes which will have a Template drop down list box. Click on the drop down and see if there’s a Fullwidth template option. This indicates that the default template has sidebars.
- Go to Appearance>Widgets. If your website has sidebars there will be Sidebar Widget areas on the right hand side of the page. The most common sidebar widget areas are Pages and Blog. If you open the widget areas there should be a description of what each area is for and it will tell you if it is a sidebar widget area.
How to put content into Sidebars
Sidebars are populated by placing widgets into the sidebar widget areas. Go to Appearance>Widgets, open the widget areas on the right hand side of the page and confirm they are sidebar widget areas, then just drag widgets from the left hand side of the page into the sidebar widget areas.
As with all widgets you will need to configure them by adding a title, text and/or select blogs, pages, social media or whatever it is that the widget displays.
Open your website in a new tab and check that the content is showing up live on your website.
Selecting Content to put in a Sidebar
Sidebars are a great way of showing visitors to your website additional information that may interest them and ultimately lead them to make a purchase or enquiry about your services. Think about content for a sidebar that compliments other information on the page. For example, if your blog is primarily about your products, perhaps links to products or product categories in the sidebar would be useful. Perhaps the sidebar in the contact page would be a good place to have a Facebook feed.
You can also populate sidebars with links that makes finding more information on your website easy for visitors to find. Categories, a Tag cloud and a list of Pages is a good start. A visitor may be looking at a particular product and see the product category in the sidebar. Clicking on that Category takes them to all the products from that Category.
Another great option for sidebars is Comments. This is only viable if you are getting comments on your posts or pages of course, but assuming that’s the case people are always interested in looking at what other people have written about your services.
Play around with content and you will quickly see what looks natural in the sidebars and what information would be useful for your visitors.
Let us know how you go!