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Step 19: Fixing up the WordPress Sidebar

Before we dive heavily into customizing the Thesis 2 Theme, let’s fix up our sidebar as a warm-up.  WordPress presents websites in a 2-column layout.  The main content is on the left side of the site and “sidebar” items are on the right.  This is the layout we’ll continue with.  Not because it is easy, but because I prefer this layout.  There has been a lot of ink spilled on the ideal layout and my opinion is that great content matters more than anything else.  This is a personal preference so you will need to decide which layout works best for you.

WordPress calls the items in the sidebar “Widgets”.  We will be working with widgets in this post.  If you note our current site display, there are a couple of default items being displayed as placeholders in the right sidebar.

Current Site Layout


We’ll address the “Text Box 1” next.  For now, we’ll address the widget as outlined in the picture above.  From your WordPress Dashboard, click “Appearance” then “Widgets”.

WordPress Sidebar Widgets

On the right side of the Widgets screen you will see a small box labeled Widgets 1.  This is what we will be targeting.

WordPress Widgets Box

Next, look for the “Available Widgets” box.

WordPress Widgets Widget List

Within the “Available Widgets” look for “Tag Cloud”.

WorPress Widget Tag Cloud

Left-click on the title “Tag Cloud” and drag it into the “Widgets 1” box.  It will expand and allow you to enter a Title.  I like “Topics” as you are prompting your readers to dig deeper into the topics of your site.  These are really WordPress “Tags”.

WordPress Tag Cloud Widget 1

Here is what your site will look like with a Topics “Tag Cloud” widget.  These tags are clickable and will take you to a page listing all posts with the tag you clicked.

Current Site Layout with WordPress Tag Cloud

Don’t worry if you can’t see anything on your site yet.  You may not have any Tags set.  We’ll cover these shortly.  The purpose of this exercise is to get comfortable customizing WordPress.

About the author: I’m a techie, a gadget geek, a former programmer, and all-around technology nut. Currently I’m a business analyst for a technology company. I love what technology can do for us. I love smartphones and apps for everything. Building sites with Thesis 2.0 and WordPress help me to reconnect with the feeling of building something tangible.

I’m on: Google+ and Twitter

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Brenda April 26, 2013, 3:27 PM

    Thanks so much for this step by step tutorial. I certainly need it as I wasn’t even/still not super clear on what a box is or a skin! Anyway, my question is about that Text Box 1 you said we would address next. I don’t see where you addressed it and I can’t seem to figure out how to make it go away or edit it. Help?

  • Doug Macklem April 28, 2013, 9:01 AM

    Brenda: check out Step 58. I think this is what you are looking for.

  • Daniel May 2, 2013, 1:06 AM

    Hi Doug,

    Thanks for this great post, it’s helped me out so much as i’m am totally new to everything. In the first picture of this post it has the default box saying “In this box you can pit anything…..” My question is, how do i delete this text? Or is it not seen once your blog is published?
    Thanks again Dough!

  • Doug Macklem May 5, 2013, 7:57 AM

    Daniel, I believe I addressed your question in Step 58. Check it out and let me know if this isn’t what you’re looking for.

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