I have resolved this ‘inactive sidebar’ conundrum and restored widgets to the right hand sidebar of my website. The next few paragraphs describe how I got confused and misdirected and lead on to say how and why I found out why I had ‘inactive sidebars’ and what it is all really about.
This blog came about because I could not find the information I needed, by searching on; YouTube tutorials, WordPress Forums, Google, WordPress Help, in the Glossary and so here are my findings. if you are short of time for reading about my experience, go straight to ‘Here It Is:’, which follows My Experience.
After spending a few hours yesterday working out why the sidebar, which showed in my chosen WordPress theme “Apostrophe Magazine” did not show in the same right hand position on my website, instead the boxes appeared clumsily at the bottom of the page, I sought to restore a sidebar to the right hand side of my website.
First, I must mention that I am working on a 13″ screen on a window, not even on full screen and I was using my Bookmarks Sidebar. (That word again).
I started by changing themes to a different one and then returned to ‘Apostrophe’, but this didn’t resolve anything. Next I went into Customize and couldn’t find the word ‘sidebar’ anywhere, or a means of changing the location of the widgets. So I went to Appearance > Widgets.
There I found at the bottom of the list of widgets, the term ‘inactive sidebar (not used) and some widgets I had created underneath.
My first impression of this was that my sidebar had fallen out of use. I entered ‘inactive sidebar’ into Google searches, WordPress Forums and tried to find it in WordPress Help and found some queries from other people wanting to understand the term ‘inactive sidebar’ but no one seemed to have the exactly same problem, which was that their widgets had moved from the right hand side of their website to below their content.
The various posts I could find about inactive sidebars seem to be unresolved so I found my way to some YouTube Tutorials. The first one that appeared was to ‘restore an inactive sidebar widget’ however, in their video was a clearly marked area called ‘Sidebar’, where I only had what looked like menus. (Confusion when a sidebar and menu are both called ‘Primary).
In this position in widgets on my website, my theme Apostrophe Magazine had ‘Primary’, ‘Secondary’, ‘Tertiary’ and ‘Footnote Sidebar’ as four locations to put widgets. In other words, the ‘sidebar’ is broken down into 4 locations, with the ‘Primary’ location appearing with colour backgrounds to stand out. So I got more confused by my widgets appearing at the bottom, so tried to remove the Footnote Sidebar (an oxymoron) to no avail.
There were three instances where I thought I had hit the jackpot:
A YouTube video:Wordpress Sidebar Moved To Bottom of Page Fix .
But this was a man talking to camera saying he spent a day trying to solve it, was more about content, gave up and changed themes, which sorted his problem out.
A post on a website called WPMUDEV asking why his custom sidebars had all been moved to inactive sidebars.
I got excited here, but he was scolded for posting in the wrong forum (not immediately obvious to an exasperated web customer) and redirected to WordPress Forums, and even though he couldn’t log in as his web developer had his log in info, they didn’t have an answer for him. This thread, again, was closed.
Another WordPress user put a similar question on WordPress Help, but the volunteer ‘looked under the bonnet’ for him and resolved the issue, so the thread didn’t give anything away.
Thinking there was some grand conspiracy where information on ‘inactive sidebars’ was a top classified secret, I managed to get onto Live Chat with someone at WordPress. By uploading screengrabs to my library, we solved the mystery. (Well, Livio gave me the information I needed to understand what was going on, so he solved the mystery. Thanks Livio).
With hindsight, it makes sense. Damn hindsight! In receiving this information, my queries about how rubbish my website looked on my mobile were also solved.
Here it is:
Apostrophe Magazine is ‘responsive’, therefore if my browser window is quite small, then content (ie pages) will take precedence over the sidebar, which will be moved to the bottom of the page.
In this particular theme (this confused me) the “sidebar areas” in widgets are not called Sidebar, but are “Primary”, “Secondary” “Tertiary” etc (ie upper, middle and lower sections of a sidebar). Which is what I had, but thought these locations were menus as my menu was ALSO called “Primary”.
How I got my sidebar back.
I moved the widgets that appeared under ‘inactive sidebar (not used)’ and put them in Primary, Secondary or Tertiary. Once the widgets were moved, the three ‘inactive sidebars’ disappeared.
I was directed to the Theme Demo and the appearance was just like my website, with no sidebar and widgets at the bottom. I was advised to widen my screen on Live Chat and the sidebar reappeared on the right hand side on the theme demo. I viewed my own site and I had widgets once more appearing on the right hand side of my content. Yes, in Sidebars!
Therefore, I have come up with two glossary entries for WordPress:
This is a term that appears at the bottom of the list of widgets when you have a sidebar widget that has been edited, but not saved and added to a location, found in top right hand corner in ‘Widgets’. It does not mean your theme’s “sidebar” has become inactive, just that a sidebar theme, perhaps a default one that came with your theme, has not been placed.
This is predominantly a location on your website (positioned to the right, left or in the footnote) where widgets can be placed. To add to your sidebar, you can drag and drop widgets from the list of these into the areas provided in the top right hand corner of the Widgets page (found in the Appearance menu). You can edit them through “Customize” reached from your Personalize menu. In some themes your “sidebar” location may be labelled differently, such as ‘Primary’ (not to be confused with ‘Primary’ menus), and an ‘inactive sidebar’ does not mean your theme’s default sidebar has been disabled. If your widgets do not appear in the sidebar as previewed in your theme, try increasing the size of your browser window, as some themes are designed to be responsive to the size of the reader’s screen, in other words priority is given to your posts and pages over sidebars.
If any of this doesn’t make sense, I am using the older interface known as the Dashboard. To see this you need to add /wp-admin/ to the end of your dotcom.
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Ask yourself these questions about your website:
Do people call your customers service asking how to use your website?
Do customers email in saying they can’t buy from your website?
Do you see many orders placed by new customers without calls to customer service?
Do you have a much higher percentage of existing customers over new customers?
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For existing websites – either text to be added or removed, which will leave new customers with a clear map to their desired destination on your website.
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Route to your house
However, companies big and small face the same issue: they know their own website too well. This is exactly like giving someone directions to your house for the first time. You know the route by heart and they have never seen it before. You may tell them to look out for a signpost that doesn’t work, not give them the easiest route or confuse them totally.
Sweet Sound PR can solve this by going to visiting your website and identifying the solution. This is all about communication, not IT.
A train company covering various routes between London and Margate allowed customers to buy their tickets and asked them which station they wished to collect their tickets from.
The solution to ensure happy customers buying their tickets and getting the right train was simple, when pinpointed:
By removing red text which said they only needed to pick a train if they wanted to reserve a seat meant they could check the departure station and time of their desired train and be able to pick their ticket up from that station. I suggested removing this misleading text, which they did.
A coffee company used words which misled customers. By changing the headings, customers knew what they were getting and placed the orders they wanted.
An online farm shop asked customers to select a time slot for delivery before they could add items to a shopping basket. Like a one way street or a diversion, if you want customers to take a particular route through your website, you need to provide sign posts and direct them each step of the way. For this customer I emailed them screen grabs and a quick start guide which they linked from a banner on their home page.
An established print company changed their name and website, which was a whole lot more sophisticated then their previous one. The problem was that customers reaching checkout without knowing that they had missed options. Imagine wanting to reach France and only being directed to the longest ferry port, when planes and trains would get you there much quicker?
The company’s express printing and delivery option was only available with no lamination. Therefore, after the words ‘Lamination Options’, I suggested adding the words ‘for express printing please select ‘None’ below.
Give me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or a call 07863554763 If you:
Get too small a percentage of orders from new customers compared to existing customers,
Get lots of calls or emails from first time customers asking how to use your website.
Think your immediate competitors are doing better.
Get complaints from new customers saying they didn’t get what they expected.
Get many hits to your website that don’t translate into sales.
People leave things in their shopping baskets but don’t buy them.
Even if you get one call asking for help with your website, it is worth a look. Every retail business loses customers without knowing as most people leave silently. Never say ‘you’re the only one with this problem’ or ‘no one else has called about this. Instead, call me for a quick, easy and very cheap to implement a no-brainer cost solution and watch those customers role in.
Don't ever change yourself to impress someone, cause they should be impressed that you don't change to please others -- When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, always remember that the teacher is always quiet during a test --- Unknown