When you setup your WordPress site, one of the first dilemmas you face is what to do with the empty sidebar. The sidebar is a great tool to build up customer engagement with visitors. You can use it for Call-To-Actions (CTA’s) such as “visit social profiles” and “sign-up for newsletter”; you can use it to showcase key content from your site; and it is a great location to place your ads if you have Adsense or any other advertisements enabled on your site.
Here we list 10 must-have widgets that you can use on the Wordpress sidebar of your self-hosted WordPress site. Add these from the Appearance -> Widgets tab on your WordPress dashboard.
1. Social Media Links Widget
This is the most essential widget for your sidebar. Display your social media links as icons and capture visitors visiting your website on your social media accounts. Ensure that the widget you pick has icons for all the social media channels where your startup is present. Simple Social Icons and Simple Follow Me Social Buttons Widget are two free widgets that are responsive, retina ready, highly customizable and cover most of the social media channels.
2. Sign Up for Newsletter
Another way to capture visitors to your website and collect emails. MailChimp for Wordpress is one of the best widgets currently available for this purpose. It provides an easily customizable widget to capture your visitor’s first name, last name and email ID. All you need to do is create your form, link your WordPress to your MailChimp account, copy the shortcode that is generated, paste it into your widget are and you’re done.
Videos are known to be by far the most engaging content tool available. Dress up your sidebar with a gallery displaying your latest Youtube videos using the Youtube Channel Gallery or simply include a link to your latest video on Vimeo or Youtube with a text widget.
4. Top Posts/Pages
Display a list of the most liked posts or the most viewed pages on your website using the WordPress Popular Posts widget. The widget allows you to customize the ranking criteria, time-span and type of post. Popular posts/top posts are a great way to increase customer engagement on your website.
5. Discussions/Latest Comments
A website where people comment and discuss the content or product on the site, says a lot about its quality. If your site has both of these, flaunt it. You can use the Recent Comments widget by WordPress or the Recent Comments Widget by Disqus, which integrates with Disqus comments.
7. Image Widgets
This widget that comes with Jetpack is an easy way to showcase content, your best products, your star contributors, almost anything and everything under the digital umbrella. And it grabs the readers’ eye more than anything else.
8. Twitter and Facebook Timelines
This may be a bit old-fashioned but a lot of readers still like to see what you are posting on social media. Integrate the Twitter timelines or Facebook timeline widgets into your sidebar.
9. Pinterest and Instagram Widgets
If your site uses a lot of image based content, then you could consider replacing the Facebook or Twitter timelines with the Pinterest and Instagram widgets for WordPress. Let your users like your products, portfolio images and latest timeline photos right from within your website.
A lot of WordPress themes now come with Search bar integrated into them. However if the theme you are using does not have it, add it. It is an essential reading aid for your visitors so that they can locate the right kind of content on your site. WordPress provides a basic search widget. For advanced search on product websites, Instant Search + provides multiple search customizations.
Which are your favorite widgets for your WordPress sidebar? Let us know in the comments below.
If you are a developer and would like us to review your plugins/widgets, drop an email to us at getstarted AT startupash DOT com.