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One of the reasons so many businesses and bloggers choose WordPress.com for their website is because it’s easy to use and offers a lot of flexibility to customize your site and make it truly yours alone.
The WordPress.com sidebar is one way to do this while adding extra value to your readers.
The WordPress.com sidebar is a column provided by your chosen theme where you can display information other than your main content. Most themes usually provide at least one sidebar either to the left or to the right of the main content.
Even if you’re not a designer, you can really change the look and functionality of your website by using the WordPress.com sidebar for purposes like…
Housing your profile photo and bio to add a human face to your website.
Making it easy to search your website.
Driving people to sign up to your mailing list or to follow your blog.
Showing off your latest or most popular posts.
Highlighting your social media profiles.
If you want your reader to be driven somewhere on your site, there’s probably a widget for that.
Widgets are the tools you add to your WordPress.com sidebar to help you do all of the things mentioned above — widgets like Text, Recent Posts, and Follow Blog are available on all WordPress.com websites with a designated widget area. If a functionality you seek isn’t available in widget form, you can upgrade to a plugin-enabled plan to activate any plugin that will help you achieve a specific goal.
The widget is the way you customize the look, feel, and functionality of your WordPress.com sidebar without needing to tinker with any code.
Most WordPress.com themes come with sidebars, but you may need to add a widget for them to become visible. To do this, follow these steps.
Access your widgets from the Customize option, which you’ll find by going to My Sites.
Once in the Customizer, choose the Widgets option.
To add a widget, first click on a widget area and then click on Add a Widget. The Customizer will display all available widgets for you to choose from. Either scroll through the list or use the search field at the top to find one. Then click on a widget to add it. You’ll see the Customizer then display a box which will allow you to configure the widget’s settings.
Once you’ve finished updating, click Close. Remove a widget by clicking delete, or reopen and update it by clicking the small down-facing arrow.
Remember to hit Save & Publish for your changes to take effect.
Remember: you’re not tied to any specific widget order for your sidebar. To change the order, drag and drop the widgets to where you want them.
Be careful not to add too many widgets, though, or your sidebar will look cluttered. Think about how you want your reader to travel through your website, and make sure the things you want people to see are closer to the top.
To get the most out of your sidebar, consider your goals for the website. If it’s to increase subscribers, then put your email signup form front and center. Consider one widget per website goal, and then prioritize according to what’s going to bring you and your audience the most value.
After all, that’s what the sidebar was designed for — to highlight the important things, drive your readers through your website, and improve the user experience for everyone.