For a long time, the sidebar has been one of the important parts of the web page layout. Many WordPress themes offer customizable sidebar widgets to create an attractive layout. You can easily get themes with two or even three sidebars as part of your layout selection. While recent web development focusing on a mobile-centric approach is making the sidebar less useful, it’s still an easy way to place widgets and get users to take action. If you are using a sidebar, here are 10 useful widgets you can add to your WordPress sidebar.
First of all, make sure you are using a theme that supports sidebars. While most commercial themes support sidebars, some themes do not. For example, the standard twenty twenty one WordPress theme comes without a sidebar. Go to Appearance > Widgets to find the sidebars available for your theme. If you only find the footer option, your theme does not support a sidebar and the best option is to choose a theme that offers support.
Depending on your theme, you will see one or more sidebars under Appearance > Widgets. For example, the Astra theme offers one main sidebar.
You can customize the appearance of the sidebar on the left or right in the Appearance > Customize > Sidebar section of your site’s page/post/archive layouts.
Once you’ve made sure your theme has a sidebar, you can simply drag and drop widgets onto your sidebar. WordPress offers several widgets by default such as archives, audio, text, custom HTML, recent posts, etc. Your theme and plugins can add custom widgets in addition to the default ones. Here are the top 10 sidebar widgets you can add to your sidebar to take your site to the next level.
1. Biography of the author
If you are a solo blogger, we highly recommend that you make your post easy to understand for the reader. The author box at the bottom of posts can help showcase your biography. However, themes like GeneratePress do not have an author field. Also, placing an author box at the bottom along with many other elements such as featured content, tags, post navigation, and comments will weaken the purpose of showing off. The best option here is to use the author bio widget in the sidebar, which readers can see first when they land on your page.
Below is an example of using the author field on Yoast.com. The good part is that you can place the widget anywhere in the content area in addition to the sidebar widget area.
You can use plugins like Simple Author Box to add an author bio widget to your sidebar.
2. Latest posts
Recent Posts is the default widget that comes with WordPress. You can simply drag and drop the widget to your sidebar.
You can set the number of posts to display, as well as enable or disable the display of the publication date. This widget can help your readers quickly find recently published content and get updates after they visit your site.
3. Popular posts
As with recent posts, you can add a featured posts widget to showcase your masterpiece content in the sidebar. However, WordPress does not offer a default widget for this purpose. You can use free plugins like WordPress Featured Posts to insert custom featured posts widgets in your sidebar. This plugin helps you create multiple time range widgets and you can get click statistics and comments on popular posts displayed in your widget.
4. Social feed / subscription
Displaying your social feed and follow buttons is one of the most successful ways to use a sidebar. There are hundreds of free and paid social media plugins available for WordPress. Alternatively, you can also try third party embeds from AddThis, ShareThis, or any other service. For example, if you’re focused on displaying your Instagram feed as a gallery, then the Smash Balloon Social Media Photo Feed is the best option available.
For simple display of social media links, you can try lightweight plugins like Lightweight Social Icons .
This is the default widget that many users don’t use properly. You can create a menu under Appearance > Menu and insert it into the sidebar using the Navigation Menu widget. The appearance of the navigation menu depends on the style of your theme, and if necessary, you can also customize it with simple CSS.
6. Widget for newsletter or email.
If you’re focusing on email marketing, displaying a newsletter or email subscription widget is fine. However, you will need a form building plugin (eg Contact Form 7) and third party services to manage your campaigns (eg MailChimp). You can use the MC4WP: MailChimp for WordPress plugin to embed a newsletter widget in your sidebar.
7. Affiliate Coupons
If you are an affiliate blogger, then the sidebar widget in WordPress is one of the best options. The sidebar widget can boost your click through rate and increase your commission boost opportunities. There are several options for displaying your coupons or affiliate links in the sidebar widget:
- Just use the text widget and paste a list of your affiliate links.
- Use “Custom HTML” and paste the affiliate code.
- Add an image widget and link that image to your affiliate link.
- Use professional coupon plugins like WP Coupons to showcase a random or specific coupon in your sidebar.
8. Related Widgets
Content bloggers need multiple widgets to display in the sidebar and footer area. Installing multiple plugins for different purposes will slow down your website speed. It will also become a challenge to manage multiple plugins on your site. The solution is to use the related widget as a separate or additional plugin. For example, the SiteOrigin Widget Pack is the best built-in widget option available for free.
Once the plugin is installed, go to Plugins > SiteOrigin Widgets and activate the necessary widgets.
Here is the list of available widgets with the plugin:
- Call to action
- Feedback form
- Google Maps
- Hero Image
- Image grid
- Image Slider
- Layout Slider
- post carousel
- Price table
- Simple masonry layout
- Social media buttons
- Video player
After activating the required widgets, go to Appearance > Widgets and insert the desired widgets into your sidebar. Keep in mind that you don’t need the SiteOrigin Page Builder plugin to use the bundled widget plugin.
An alternative option is to use the free version of the Shortcodes Ultimate plugin. This plugin offers over 40 useful shortcodes that you can use anywhere on your site, including the sidebar. You can select and insert any element using the “Shortcodes ultimate” widget and customize the appearance.
9. YouTube Gallery
YouTube is becoming an integral part of any WordPress blogs. If you have a dedicated YouTube channel, it makes sense to showcase the video gallery in the sidebar widget of your WordPress site. You can use plugins like Video Gallery to embed YouTube and Vimeo galleries in the sidebar widget area of your WordPress site. After installing the plugin, you can go to the “Video Gallery” section and create galleries to receive the shortcode. After that go to Appearance > Widgets and paste the shortcode using the text widget in the sidebar.
Alternatively, you can also use the default video widget to embed a single video from your site’s media library or from an external URL.
10. Product Widgets
If you’re primarily focused on selling products through your digital store, then product-related widgets in your sidebar can boost your sales. The available sidebar widgets depend on the online store plugin you are using. For example, WooCommerce offers the following sidebar widgets and featured products as an easy choice to drive traffic to popular product pages.
In addition to inserting widgets into the sidebar area of your WordPress site, you can also use the following options to make the most of these widgets.
- Jetpack Widget Visibility – Use this option in the Jetpack plugin to control the behavior of each widget in the sidebar. For example, you can show or hide any specific widget on the home page or in posts.
- Multiple Sidebars – If you have multiple categories on your site, you can try using different sidebars for different categories. This will help you increase the relevance of the content you show in your sidebar. You can use plugins like Advanced Sidebars to easily manage multiple sidebars with different control options.
- Floating Fixed Widget – Use the Q2W3 Fixed Widget to make any widget in the sidebar float when content is scrolled. This will increase the click through rate and increase the conversion of the floating sidebar widget.