How to add Dynamic Widget Ready Sidebars in WordPress

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Widgets are such an integral part of WordPress themes that it is hard to imagine a WordPress theme without widgets. Widgets are executable scripts that you can simply drag and drop in your sidebars or any other widget ready area in your theme. Many of our readers utilize widgets to add custom elements to their sidebar. However this article is for those curious users who want to learn how to add dynamic widget ready sidebars or widget ready areas in WordPress themes.

Registering Sidebars or Widget Ready Areas in WordPress

First thing you need to do is to register your sidebar or widget ready area for your theme. You can register multiple sidebars and widget ready areas. Copy and paste this code in your theme’s functions.php file

  function wpb_widgets_init() {    	register_sidebar( array(  		'name' => __( 'Main Sidebar', 'wpb' ),  		'id' => 'sidebar-1',  		'description' => __( 'The main sidebar appears on the right on each page except the front page template', 'wpb' ),  		'before_widget' => '<aside id="%1$s" class="widget %2$s">',  		'after_widget' => '</aside>',  		'before_title' => '<h3 class="widget-title">',  		'after_title' => '</h3>',  	) );    	register_sidebar( array(  		'name' =>__( 'Front page sidebar', 'wpb'),  		'id' => 'sidebar-2',  		'description' => __( 'Appears on the static front page template', 'wpb' ),  		'before_widget' => '<aside id="%1$s" class="widget %2$s">',  		'after_widget' => '</aside>',  		'before_title' => '<h3 class="widget-title">',  		'after_title' => '</h3>',  	) );  	}    add_action( 'widgets_init', 'wpb_widgets_init' );

In this code, we have registered two sidebars. We have given them names and descriptions to identify them on Widgets screen. The description parameter can be used to tell users where this sidebar appears in the theme. The wpb is the name of the theme we are working on, it is used here to make these strings translatable. You should replace it with your theme name.

Newly created sidebars appearing on Widgets screen

Adding Dynamic Widget Ready Sidebars in WordPress Theme Files

So far we have only registered Dynamic Sidebars. Users can drag and drop widgets into these sidebars from Appearance » Widgets screen. However, these sidebars will not appear on your site until they are called in a template like sidebar.php or anywhere else you want to display them. To add these widget areas, edit the template file where you want to display them and paste this code:

  <?php if ( is_active_sidebar( 'sidebar-1' ) ) : ?>  	<div id="secondary" class="widget-area" role="complementary">  	<?php dynamic_sidebar( 'sidebar-1' ); ?>  	</div>  <?php endif; ?>

In this example code, we have used sidebar id to call the sidebar we want to display here. Change the sidebar id to display another sidebar. For example, you can register three sidebars for footer area and then call them one by one in your theme’s footer.php template.

Widgets can be very powerful. You can add widgets to your posts and page content, make your text widgets colorful, or extend the power of default WordPress widgets. Rightly placed widget ready sidebars allow users to add custom elements to their websites using simple drag and drop interface.

We hope that this article helped you learn how to add dynamic widget ready sidebars in WordPress. We would recommend that you study the code in theme frameworks such as Genesis to learn how professionals are using them in their products. For questions and feedback please leave a comment below.

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