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WordPress.com Widgets – Customizing Your WordPress.com Theme Sidebar

WordPress.com announces customization features for your WordPress.com Theme sidebar called “WordPress Widgets. Some of the Themes available with WordPress.com now include a feature to permit some arranging of the sidebar. If the Theme includes the Widgets, you will see a new tab in the Presentation panel called “Sidebar Editor”.

Wordpress.com new sidebar theme options tab

Your choices for customizing your Theme’s sidebar include turning on or off or moving around the following:

  • Categories
  • Archives
  • Links
  • Meta
  • Pages
  • Search

Along with the customization features of WordPress Themes like Binary Moon’s Regulus Theme, WordPress Themes and those offered by WordPress.com are beginning to grow into the much requested features demanded by WordPress users.

The options listed above come with most WordPress Themes, basically by default. These are the navigation features considered standard for most blogs. The Regulus Theme also includes WordPress Plugins and WordPress Tags, like Most Recent Posts, allowing even more customization.

If I were in charge of the WordPress World, these are the following items I’d make customizable (include, rearrange, or remove) on the WordPress sidebar:

  • Categories
  • Archives
  • Links/Blogroll
  • Meta
  • Pages
  • Search
  • Most Recent Posts
  • Random Post Highlights
  • Most Recent Comments
  • Most Popular Posts
  • Random Posts from Current Category(s)
  • Calendar
  • Blog Description/Summary
  • Blogger Photography/Image
  • Asides
  • One Incoming Feed
  • Post Related Tags
  • Tag Heat Cloud or Map
  • Post Meta Data

Now, all of these are not easy to include, though some of them are. I certainly don’t expect people to turn these all on at the same time, though they could if they wanted. Personally, removing the search from the sidebar, unless it is included already in the header, is a dumb thing to do. I’d never remove it. But I haven’t yet seen much usability in the Calendar or Date Archives lists as how would I know when someone posted what when that might be of interest to me. I’d remove those immediately. These seem to only serve the blogger not the reader.

Having options to increase reader “stickability” is important to me and others who want people to stick around and read more of their brilliant writing on their blogs, so random post lists and other post list collections would really help to direct people to other fascinating topics on your blog.

This would also include the addition of post related tags. While using categories as tags is still a nice idea, tagging is now the hot ticket in town for increased site navigation and intrasite connections, as well as external site connections. I’d love to see a small list of post related tags and a tag heat cloud or map that helps direct readers to popular tagged posts within the blog with tag site searches.

A lot of people want their picture and some text about themselves and their blogging purpose on their sidebar, so this would be a valuable feature for them. And even more people like to have the most recent comments and asides on their blog sidebar, along with at least one incoming feed. I haven’t yet seen any good statistics that say that readers want to see these things, but many users want them featured, especially when they first get started blogging.

As WordPress options and features expand, mostly due to the demands and requests by WordPress.com bloggers, all WordPress users are rewarded as WordPress continues to grow and improve.

So what would you like to see on the WordPress.com sidebar? Do you agree with my list?


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

13 Comments

  1. Posted February 25, 2006 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Great post, as usual. I agree completely with all of your sidebar suggestions, including removing the calendar and archives (I don’t see the purpose of those at all).

    Incidentally, I started up a WP.com blog along with my WP.org blog – the same blog – to see which one does better regarding site traffic, comments, etc.

    Your blog has been my WP.com bible – thanks!

    KeeKee

  2. Posted February 25, 2006 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I would like if we can do different customizations for the sidebar per template (index, single, page, …). This will really give me control over whole context of the displayed page.

  3. Posted February 25, 2006 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I put my request in for “recent posts”, the one feature that I really liked about the Regulus theme, but that is thinking small. I like your suggestions. I was so excited to see that I could add pages to the Quentin theme, but found another fatal bug. (no ‘previous entries’ link at the bottom of pages.. sigh)

    I am anxus to see what can be done when we can start wrighting our own widgets.

    Scott

  4. Neeraj
    Posted February 27, 2006 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    For me, calender/archive/Blogger Photograph Image/Meta are few something I can easily live without. But all others are a “must haves” in your list.

    What I would also like to see is to somehow put the list of latest 5 comment-$pammer details caught by Aksimet.

  5. Posted February 27, 2006 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Neeraj, why? Why would Akismet details be important? Spammers don’t see it, and certainly don’t care. Users don’t care how you administrate your blog. The information would only be of use to you, I think, and that information is on the Akismet panel. Why do you think this would be important? I’m curious.

  6. Neeraj
    Posted March 2, 2006 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    It may be a small thing, but it will help in sorting out comments that are really not spam. I agree Akismet is amazing in it’s working but many times it catches genuine comments, most of the times that is because those comments contains links but sometimes I am unable to understand why were those caught by Akismet. But given it’s success rate I’m happy with how it works.

    Now If I’ll have the list of spam Akismet caught [say 10 latest], I can immediately figure out whether that some geniune comments are caught or not, instead of going all the way to spam page.

  7. Posted March 2, 2006 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    The general rule of thumb for spam catching is that if a comment has 2 or more links, it’s either considered comment spam or put into moderation so you can decide. I talk about this issue more on New Comment Spammer on the Loose – Pay Attention.

  8. Neeraj
    Posted March 2, 2006 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I know Lorelle, that’s why I have already modified that. But few times some of the comments which dosen’t have any links or any abusive languages get caught by Akismet.

    I was thinking about those cases, though the ratio is very low [say 1 in 15].

  9. Posted March 2, 2006 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    This blog gets hit a LOT by comment spammers and I’d have to guess that the “good” comments get caught by Akismet for me possibly 1 in 100 or more. Many of the same comment spammers hit my main site, and Spam Karma takes them out at a very high rate, possibly better, give or take, than Akismet. But this isn’t a contest or proper research.

    As long as comment spammers continue to try to outwit blog developers, blog developers must be a step ahead. It sucks. I wish they would learn that almost all WordPress blogs are immune to such abuse. Even if the comment goes through, it does them no good. It’s a total waste.

  10. Posted June 8, 2007 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Here comes the hosted version of this plugin. The plugin was written by a spanish guy http://www.anieto2k.com/. bueltge.de [by:ltge.de]has translated the administration into German and English and here comes the link: http://bueltge.de/wp-feedstats-de-plugin/171/

  11. Posted June 15, 2007 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    This is a great list – I am glad I found it. I am in the process of reworking my blog and making decisions … making decisions – Very helpful – I will bookmark and come back

    thank you!
    ~ Diane Clancy

  12. socialbutterfly4change
    Posted January 20, 2008 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I agree with these. I would like to be able to add HTML code, so I could add Meta Tags, Technorati tags and google analytics. If you know or could lead me to a resource that knows this. Please get back to me, thanks! =)

  13. Posted January 20, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    @ socialbutterfly4change:

    These are all different issues. You sign up for Google Analytics. You add tags with the built-in tagging of the latest version of WordPress and WordPress.com without anything special, if you are using WordPress. And see Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization Guide and WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, for the rest.

    And never, ever leave your email address within the comment box. It’s too big a security risk.


20 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. [...] Warpspire’s Hemingway WordPress Theme takes this customization of WordPress Themes even farther using “blocks” and AJAX to help people change the look of their WordPress Theme. This “block” technology is part of the process behind the recent introduction of the new Sidebar Editor or “WordPress Widget”. If the Theme includes the functions for these Widgets, the user will see the Sidebar Editor on the Presentation Panel after choosing that WordPress Theme. Currently, you can only choose to include or remove the categories, Pages, search, archives, meta, and links/blogroll from the sidebar. [...]

  3. [...] WordPress.com has also started adding widgets so I have been told and making things easier to use however I’m still waiting for them to allow me to edit the templates so I can do more powerful customizations than what they let you do now. Until then I wouldn’t go near WordPress.com with a 400 foot pole unless your just looking for a nice personal diary site that looks just like everyone else’s. But really does everyone want a red car with brown leather seating? No. People like to pick and choose. While WordPress.com has a decent selection of templates, what users really want is the ability like Blogger to customize it to their choosing. [...]

  4. The Widget Wars!

    What’s super hot currently in the blogosphere? Without doubt it’s widgets, which are the latest features offered by 2 of the top Blogging Platforms WordPress & Typepad. So what exactly are Widgets you ask? Very simple, Widgets are small…

  5. [...] There is a lot of excitement over the new trend in WordPress Themes which allows some form of customization by the user. This is enhanced by the new WordPress Widgets, the ability to accessorize and change your sidebar in some WordPress Themes on WordPress.com and with a WordPress Plugin for full version WordPress blogs. [...]

  6. [...] After reading Lorelle’s Customizing Your WordPress.com Theme Sidebar post, I came back to see if this widgets was also available for hosted versions. Well it is! [...]

  7. [...] The problem with a lot of this information is the myriad ways feeds are used. They are used by people to quickly gather information and updates from their favorite websites and blogs. They are also used to display content, in various forms, on web pages, such as headlines (like the feeds shown in my sidebar using the new WordPress Widgets), excerpts, or even full content, sometimes instead of original content on a web page or blog. All we have are the statistics and feed services. Many of those feed services, such as NewsGator, allow users to showcase your blog on theirs. But how would you be able to track that information? That’s for another article. [...]

  8. [...] I think the sidebar accessories, WordPress Widgets, are very slick for allowing customization of WordPress.com blogs, but I’d really like to see a similar thing done which allows us to customize our WordPress Dashboard with feeds, to help us find content to write about and keep up with our favorite sites via the WordPress interface. Especially for WordPress.com blogs. [...]

  9. [...] Ohhh… WordPress.com. Icky. Actually, my only real complaint with WordPress.com is when people use it with wordpress.com subdomains instead of registering their own domain names and building the values of those domains. For WordPress.com widgets, look at WordPress.com Widgets – Customizing Your WordPress.com Theme Sidebar. Which WordPress.com theme are you using? Does it have the Sidebar Editor? WordPress.com custom headers are listed at Which themes can I add a header image to? Man, WordPress.com is icky. I’m spoiled, I code my own HTML by hand. My pages are ugly, but they are exactly the ugly that I want. [...]

  10. [...] first treats we got was the ability to change the header art on a few WordPress.com Themes. Then WordPress Widgets were released which allowed customization of some WordPress.com Themes to allow customization of [...]

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