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Theme “?”: what do you want in your sidebar?

  • I’m working on developing a theme right now (going to be available for free downloads when I’m done), and I was wondering…

    What are the most common things you all want in your sidebar? Category links? Archives? Lists or dropdowns? How about a contact form (yes, right in the sidebar)? Blogrolls?

    I’m just needing to get an idea of what the most commonly requested/used items are in a sidebar so I can make that available to people for this theme.


Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • I’d personally love the following:

    Most Recent Posts
    Category Lists/Archives (depending on choice)
    Meta (RSS Feed,etc…)

    Doodlebee –

    First of all, people love to customize their sidebar. So if it doesn’t support widgets, people will ask you to do so pretty much as soon as you release it.

    Getting that out of the way, I think the following are always standard:

    Page list (unless you have it in a navigation bar. if so, putting it in the sidebar is a wee bit redundant.)

    Category List

    Meta or Login

    But again, picking the best sidebar features will differ depending on who you talk to. So making it customizable (ala widgets) will really make your end users happy.

    widgets. I’ll do the customizing of the sidebar myself. As long as you support widgets, you need not worry about getting your offerings right.

    Rock ON! I’ve never heard of “widgets” (excaept on my Mac – you get them for the Dashboard on OSX) these are *cool*. And *wow* – how easy is it to do the sidebar now? Awesome. And *soooo* easy to put in there!

    Thanks for the tip! I must now play with my newfound toy!

    no problemo!

    …and don’t forget to give those a NO-widgets option who quite plainly consider them needless surplus 😉

    The standard way of including widgets has a test to see if you have widgets installed or not. Those without widgets will never have a problem with anyone who follows the standard way of including them.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)


    WordPress.org Tech Dude

    My advice for new theme creators is to copy the widgetized sidebar from the default theme into their sidebar code. You can find it in the widgets plugin package.

    Why? Few reasons:

    1. It creates a standard sidebar (using ul/li’s) that everybody is pretty used to.
    2. Since everybody customizes their sidebar anyway, putting lots of work into this is pointless.
    3. It’s widget capable. You might want to fiddle with the names of the widget sidebars, but that’s it, really.

    So that’s what I’d do. Use the default theme’s sidebar + widgets.

    There is a nice letter to theme designers 🙂

    The information above has been wonderful. That “letter”, moshu, was particularly enlightening, if a little bit mind-boggling! WordPress continues to amaze me with it’s power…I had no idea.

    Anyway, so I’ve taken a *lot* of the advice in that letter, as well as from the posts here, and taken my new theme a little bit further. But now I am stuck. I now have a list of “things to do” involving this, but a *big* thing I’m kinda stuck on is the “Options” page I have created to go with the theme. This question goes along with this thread, I think, so I’ll just keep it here rather than start a new one, if that’s okay.

    So now my issue is this: what Options do I provide to the end user? Are there any options that tend to be “absolutely necessary”, in anyone’s experience? I do like the idea of offering alternate headers and stylesheets…I’ve added the widgets thing ( and have a “default” in there for non-widget-loving people) – but I’m not sure what the most popular widgets are so I can accommodate the styling for them. I’m also not sure how much I need to (no offense anyone) “dumb myself down” to get to a level of people who just want to put it up and not worry about it – I’ve been doing web design and CMS’s for a while now, so I know that my knowledge of PHP and CMS things like this program are within my range of grasping – but the “regular Joe” out there has no clue – so I’d like to make it as easy as possible I can for them.

    Plus, I’m not sure what documentation I should also provide in my zipped file (once I’m finished). I’ve downloaded a few other themes to get an idea, but there’s so much to learn! (I haven’t been this excited about learning something since I started doing CSS years ago…this development thing has been a blast!)

    Anyway, I’d like to get some “options” ideas, if I could at least get that far. Once I get that, and get some other stuff in place, I feel I may need to ask (in a new thread) for some test-monkeys before I “officially” release it – just to see the feedback and what could change. But the inital stuff would be great before I take that next step. Any advice or suggestions would be most certainly welcome – I’d love to get this right the first time, if I can 🙂

    Thanks a bunch for your help so far!

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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