The term “sidebar” actually refers to two different things in WordPress:
- Dynamic sidebar: A container for a set of widgets, which the user can set from the Widgets screen in the admin.
- Sidebar template: A theme template that displays content.
In most situations, a theme would register a dynamic sidebar and load its widgets within a sidebar template. This isn’t always the case, but it’s generally what you’ll see. It’s important to understand that there’s a difference though.
Generally, the term “sidebar” refers to a dynamic sidebar, which is the focus of this article. However, I will touch on sidebar templates as well.
One thing I’ve been disappointed with when looking at themes is that many theme developers aren’t fully taking advantage of one of the most powerful features of WordPress. Most themes will only have a single sidebar, maybe two at most. But, these themes will create large theme options pages for things that could be easily handled with widgets or put content directly in templates.
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