How to Customize Your WordPress Sidebar

This video and text tutorial will teach you how to customize WordPress widgets, including how to edit your WordPress sidebar.

In WordPress, a widget is a draggable piece of functionality that goes into a specific widget area. Historically, WordPress widgets were the way you controlled and customized your site’s sidebar, and sidebars are still the most common place for WordPress widget areas. Now, homepages, headers, footers, and more may also contain widget areas that can be customized using widgets.

Fortunately, all widget areas in WordPress use the same interface, so whether you’re trying to edit your sidebar content or make use of your theme’s widgetized footer, the basic controls are the same. Here’s a video that walks you through customizing WordPress widgets:

And here’s a text guide to the same information:

How to Move, Change, and Edit Your Sidebar Widgets in WordPress

  1. Log in, if you haven’t already, to your WordPress site.
  2. If you’re viewing the front side of your site, click “Customize” in the top bar. If you’re in back-end, you’ll pick “Appearance > Customize” in the left menu.
  3. Once in the Customizer, you’ll notice a left panel, and your site on the right. You’ll control the way the right-side preview looks by changing things in the left panel.
  4. In left panel, click on “Widgets.”
  5. The left sidebar panel will now roll-over to show you a list of all your widget areas. These are named by your theme, so the name won’t be consistent. But one will probably have a name like “Sidebar.” Click that.
  6. Now you’ll see all the widgets which are now in your sidebar. You can drag them around to reorder.
  7. To remove a sidebar widget, click on it, and its contents should roll down to show. Click the red “Remove” in the bottom right.
  8. To add a new widget, click the “Add a Widget” button in the bottom right. This will show you all the widgets, and you’ll select the one you want, and control it the same way.

And that’s how to edit your WordPress sidebar and your site’s other widget areas! If you want to know more in-depth how to customize WordPress sidebars, widgets, and widget areas—including how to write new widgets and widget areas using PHP—our course on the subject can help:

Creating WordPress Widgets: The Complete Guide

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David Davenport
July 17, 2020 7:12 pm

I want to know how to add items to the customize control list. The default list has ‘Site Identity’, ‘Menus’, ‘Homepage Settings’, ‘Additional CSS’. How can I add others?

I wish I could include screen shots to show what I’m talking about. All of my web searches show me how to customize, but not how to modify the customize controls.

June 1, 2020 11:11 am

Thanks, that helped!

September 19, 2019 4:20 am

Hey David, Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I am trying to add custom widget code but it’s giving an error.

function widget()
‘name’ => __(‘Primary Sidebar’, ‘wpb’),
‘id’ => ‘primary_sidebar’
‘description’ => ”,
‘class’ => ”,
‘before_widget’ => ”,
‘after_widget’ => ”,
‘before_title’ => ”,
‘after_title’ => ”,


add_action(‘widgets_init’, ‘widget’);

I have seen the code here and not sure about whether it’s my theme issue or any code error.