Now you need a few things in your sidebar. Let’s go and set them up.
Go to Appearance/widgets.
- On the left you will see some widgets that are already sitting there for you to use.
- On the right you will see where you are going to put them. With some themes, this area can become quite complex but let’s focus on the 1st sidebar or primary sidebar depending on your theme. Some themes have more than one sidebar but we will suppose you have one sidebar on the right-hand side, which is the most common composition.
- Click on the little arrow next to the 1st/primary sidebar and it will drop down to expose the area where you are going to put the widgets. There will already be some there because WordPress puts them there. That doesn’t mean that you need them all though. Have a look at this article, 5 widgets not to have in your sidebar. Remove any that are listed like the RSS Feed and tag cloud.
- Keep this area open.
- Look again to the left and look through the different widgets to find “Search”. (This may already be one of the ones in your sidebar but this is just an example.)
- Click on it and hold it so you can drag it up to the open area of the sidebar. When you get up there, hover over the area and a rectangle with a dotted border will appear. Drop it here.
7. Now go to the front end of your blog and on the right you will see a search button. It’s that simple.
8. Now you know what you are doing, have a look at this article, 5 widgets you must have in your sidebar
9. Let’s start with an optin form and social media icons, which should be at the top of the sidebar.
10. Look through the widgets again and find something called Simple social icons. If you don’t have that there will be something similar, which could be a part of your theme.
11. Drag that across and drop it above the search bar.
12. When it is in place, click on the wee arrow on the box and there will be information to fill in. Most of it is self-explanatory but you could leave the defaults for most of it. However, you will need to fill in the URLs for your various social media platforms though. When you have finished, click on Save at the bottom and close the dropdown.
13. Now for the optin form. Remember the code you got from MailChimp? That is going to be needed now. If you haven’t done this yet, drag over Blog Subscriptions (Jetpack) and place it above the social media icons widget. WordPress will be collecting your subscriptions meanwhile, but get a MailChimp newsletter list going as soon as possible. See this article, How to sign up with MailChimp and set up a list. There are other MailChimp articles here, here, and here.
14. If you do have the code, then you will need a Text widget. This can be used for code. Drag it over and position it at the top and click on the arrow. There is no need to fill in a heading. Just drop the code you have copied and paste it into the bigger space. Click Save at the bottom and go to the front to see what it looks like.
15. You may already have a category widget in place, make sure that in the dropdown, you have ticked, Display as dropdown. Click Save.
16. If at any stage, you decide you don’t want a certain widget after all. Drag it over to the left and down to the bottom where it says, Inactive Widgets. Drop it into a dotted rectangle there. That way, you can always retrieve it with all its settings later if you change your mind.
That’s how you build your sidebar. But always keep in mind that a cluttered sidebar looks messy and slows down your load time. Keep your blog running as a clean, lean machine.
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