Using Widgets to Add Footer or Sidebar Content

WordPress widgets are small modules that appear on every page of your site containing text, categories, HTML or other content.

Widgets allow you to add content in two places: The right sidebar and the footer.

Sidebar widgets

Unless your site is set up as a blog, we recommend against using sidebar widgets for important content. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The right sidebar already includes the sub-menu. Any widgets you add appear below the menu. This not only decreases their visibility but could make your sidebar content longer than the page itself. And on mobile devices, sidebar content appears below the page content.
  • The same widgets will appear in the sidebar on every page of the site.
  • Site visitors tend to ignore cluttered sidebars due to right rail / banner blindness.

Footer widgets

The footer is the dark gray field at the bottom of every page of your site. It is the same on every page.

At minimum, the footer should include your group’s contact information — but don’t add it using widgets! Instead, add contact information using the customizer.

If you’d like to add more than contact information to your footer, that’s where widgets enter the picture! Include no more than four. (This site has one.) The customizing the footer section below has guidance on providing the right information for your site visitors.

Adding widgets

  1. Go to Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets
  2. Under Available Widgets, click on the Text widget and drag it to the sidebar or footer where you’d like it to appear.
    Additional widgets listed are default options offered through WordPress and are not recommended for Web Theme sites.
  3. Click the down arrow to the right of the Text widget title to expand editing options. 
  4. Type in a title for the text widget (optional)
  5. Add content.
  6. To reorder widgets within the Sidebar or Footer, drag and drop them to the desired locations.
  7. Click Save

It’s tempting to fill the footer with quick links, mission statement, policies and awards.

However, the more “noise” visitors encounter in the sidebar and footer, the less likely they are to read the content, and they might end up ignoring this content completely.

Make your footer the product of intentional choices. If the footer turns into a grab-bag of content, look for larger issues with the site. For example, if visitors are having difficulty finding information, the navigation menu may need to be reorganized or relabeled.

At minimum, a website’s footer should include:

  1. The group responsible for the website and their contact information.
    How to edit your footer contact information »
  2. A copyright statement, which is automatically included as part of the WashU Web Theme.

Additional information that might be useful in a footer includes:

  • A brief description of your group’s relation to a broader initiative or entity.
    E.g., The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is a division of the Washington University School of Medicine Human Resources Office.
  • Links to important pages that are not listed in the main navigation.
  • A secondary call to action, such as links to schedule a visit, sign up for a newsletter or make a donation.
  • A certification or award that is significant to your group’s impact or story.
    E.g., The Office of Residential Life is proud to be a Gold-Certified Green Office.