What are the basic features that a website should consist of? It greatly depends on the type of website that you're trying to build, if it's a landing page – then you don't need much more than initial elements of text, images, menus, footers and dividers to create smooth landing pages, but when it comes to more complex websites – each content page can turn out to be a unique experience, which it usually is.
The Sidebar as one of the most utilized WordPress Features
These days, webmasters / website owners go all out on making their content pages stand out from the rest, whilst remaining friendly to the eyes of the reader. One of the most utilized feature of WordPress is the sidebar. The sidebar is a place where you can put all your needed WordPress plugins, widgets and elements that don't otherwise fit anywhere in the content area, such as:
- General search function, majority of users are already adapted to the idea of seeing a search feature on the sidebar.
- List of all the categories that you write content for. Makes it easy and accessible for users to browse your content.
- A list of the most popular content on your site, both in terms of views and comments.
- A subscription module that allows readers to subscribe using email.
- Social media icons and/or links that users can use to follow you.
The list goes on endlessly, it comes down to what you as webmaster want to display on your sidebar. However, there are situations where you'll want to utilize custom sidebars for different posts and pages, the most common scenario being that we might be using one blog to write about two different content types, and you wish to keep them separated from each other for the time being. This is where using custom sidebars can come in real handy.
How to Add a Custom Sidebar to Your Website?
The question is, how do you add unique and custom sidebars to your WordPress websites? The most reliable and flexible solution is going to be by using a custom sidebar plugin such as Custom Sidebars.
Custom Sidebars allows you to create all the widgetized areas you need, your own custom sidebars, configure them adding widgets, and replace the default sidebars on the posts or pages you want with just a few clicks. After having experimented with several other similar plugins, the Custom Sidebars plugin really stands out as the one that's most reliable and easy to use.
After finishing the installation of the plugin, you can head over to the Widgets area of your WordPress dashboard, to be greeted by a similar screen like displayed here:
As you can see, we have created a custom demo sidebar called “x”. Now, you can use the Sidebar Location feature to specify where exactly you wish for this new custom sidebar to appear. The way this works is that the plugin takes an example from your already established sidebars in the core of the theme. You can select “x” to appear as “Default Sidebar”, or as “Footer Sidebar”, it's up to you to specify the location.
But, how exactly do you get the new custom sidebar to show up on your posts and pages? This is much easier than you might think. Once you have done all of the above, you can head over to any custom post or page that you have published or are going to publish, and specify which particular sidebar you want to use for that post/page:
On the right hand side of each post, there's a new menu called “Sidebars”. As you can see in the snapshot example, the plugin automatically lists all of the available sidebar areas on your site, and each area offers a dropdown menu where you can select which particular sidebar you wish to show for that section, on this particular post. There's nothing else to it, and you only have to do the process once to fully understand how it works.
How to add unique sidebars to your WordPress posts and pages
In past, you had to rely on methods like creating custom code and working your way through the functions and calls through each specific WordPress theme, to be able to do custom sidebar actions such as these, but thankfully WordPress has evolved and powerful plugins have been released, so you no longer need to spend hours on trying to create one custom sidebar for one custom post.