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Selectively Tweaking Your WordPress Sidebars

November 22, 2011

Have you ever had a widget that you wanted to display in a sidebar … but only on one specific page? I certainly have. I’ve frequently wished that I could make sidebar changes, maybe to just one or two widgets, according to what is in the main page content.

There is, of course, the option of building a complete page template for each situation but that’s time-consuming, and this is where a beautiful little plugin called “Display Widgets” comes into its own. I came across it by accident recently and it fit exactly my need of the moment.

I’ve recently been renovating one of my sites which was neglected during a long year of illness, Fine-Alpaca.co.uk. In addition to pages about alpacas themselves it promotes gifts made from the beautifully soft alpaca fleece. Without going into the detail I wanted a teddy bear in the sidebar of most pages, but on one page which was already full of teddy bears I wanted to show something different. “Display Widgets” to the rescue!

“Display Widgets” adds to each widget setup a range of checkboxes. By default it is set to having everything shown, so when you install it there’s no risk of suddenly discovering that your sidebars have changed.

You then can choose to display or not display each individual widget on (for example) certain types of page, or you can select from a list of your pages. There is the option of using the checkboxes either to select where the widget should be shown (assuming nowhere else) or to choose where it should not be shown (assuming everywhere else). It’s not restricted to pages; you can add a comma-separated list of post IDs on which a widget should either be or not be shown.

My first use of “Display Widgets” has been very successful. I can think of a variety of other circumstances in which I might use it in future. For example, suppose I have the maximum of three Adsense ads in the sidebars but want on a certain page to put a block ad into the content body. Using “Display Widgets” it will be easy to block out one of the sidebar Adsense towers, fill that space with an alternative and keep within the Adsense rules.

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a great enthusiast for the Thesis theme. Both this site and Fine-Alpaca use it, as do most of my recently renovated sites. “Display Widgets” is an excellent companion to Thesis. The combination increases further its already superb design flexibility. Why don’t you try them both?

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