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”.
Your choices for customizing your Theme’s sidebar include turning on or off or moving around the following:
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:
- Most Recent Posts
- Random Post Highlights
- Most Recent Comments
- Most Popular Posts
- Random Posts from Current Category(s)
- Blog Description/Summary
- Blogger Photography/Image
- 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?