Remove WordPress Sidebars on Any Website in 2 Minutes

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Remove WordPress Sidebars on Any Website in 2 Minutes
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Sidebars play an important role in website design. While you’re optimizing for speed and security, optimizing your sidebar can make it possible to get more out of every page—providing you with a designated area to push your most important goals on every page where they’re activated.

Depending on your theme, you can designate a right or left sidebar (some WordPress themes will let you use just one or either). Within the sidebar, you can add various widgets, including social media feeds, email subscription forms, recent posts, blog categories, archives, a gallery, advertisements, and really whatever strikes your fancy. But not everyone is on board with their obligatory presence.

gasp

WordPress: Remove Sidebars? The UX Controversy

Most marketers see a sidebar as an opportunity to push an email opt-in form, regardless of how it might impact the user experience. But not everyone wants to make use of WordPress sidebars.

The Daily Egg shares how using a sidebar can possibly affect your conversion and overall profit. Since regular readers are unlikely to be affected by sidebar content, it’s mostly new readers that you’re targeting with an email opt-in as part of your sidebar. Bryan Harris of VideoFruit confirms this suspicion, based on a study of his own website.

Our team at WP Buffs helps website owners, agency partners and freelancer partners remove or add sidebars anytime. Whether you need us to manage a 1 website or support 1000 client sites, we’ve got your back.

📑 At best, a sidebar can be a distraction that takes the attention of the reader away from the main goal of the page. #WordPress Click To Tweet It’s also worth considering that on mobile, your sidebar will appear completely different—most likely moving to the bottom of your page, after the focus content. If someone doesn’t make it to the bottom of your page, they may not be aware that you even have a sidebar!

Having said all this, some WordPress themes leave the sidebar functionality on as a default—with no easy way to facilitate the task of removing a WordPress sidebar. If you find yourself in this situation, there’s still hope: we’ve put together a list of the best ways to solve your WordPress sidebar removal problems. And yes, there are plenty of plugins that can do this for you, without having to dig into the code.

But before talking about removal tips and tricks, let’s dive deeper into why you might want to get rid of your WordPress sidebar in the first place.

Why Should You Ditch the WordPress Sidebar?

There are many instances where a sidebar may not be necessary for your WordPress website. It really depends on the type of website you operate, the overall design structure, and your purpose for having a sidebar in the first place.

A common WordPress design heuristic involves a full-width homepage and a sidebar on individual blog posts and some pages. If you want to feature ads but need to remove them from select pages, a sidebar is an easy way to make this happen.

UsabilityGeek helps make sense of the subject by using Google Drive and various news websites as examples of web interfaces that use sidebars. If you’re familiar with Google Drive’s interface, its sidebar serves a very useful purpose for navigation.

Google Drive sidebar

But on most news sites, the sidebar is overkill for the design, which can appear to be overwhelming and messy. These websites primarily make use of a sidebar to showcase suggested content, reducing the bounce rate and increasing time on site. The purpose of the sidebar, in these instances, is often defeated by a redundant suggested content widget appearing at the end of the article.

Determining when and how to start the process of removing a WordPress sidebar again comes back to your specific goals. Specifically, if the major goal of your website is to get conversions, you should probably ditch it.

Here’s why:

Every additional element you add to a page is a distraction from your main goal. Instead of capturing visitors’ attention to complete a desired action, they may instead focus on additional links you’ve presented them within the sidebar. A busy page can easily take attention away from the main goal of the website.

Here’s another question you’ll want to answer for yourself when determining whether or not to move forward with this task: do you expect mobile traffic on your website?

Even if you don’t plan for mobile traffic (you should), it’s basically a given at this point. Mobile search has already outpaced desktop search.

A 2017 BrightEdge study demonstrated the widening gap between mobile and traditional desktop search. According to BrightEdge’s research, mobile searches represent 57 percent of all search traffic on Google. But it’s not just organic traffic—BrightEdge also found that Facebook has reported that mobile advertising drove 87 percent of ad revenue.

The kicker?

🤷 If your website is mobile-responsive, your sidebar will become somewhat useless on mobile devices. #WordPress Click To Tweet This is because your sidebar usually appears at the very bottom of the page on mobile, after the rest of the main page content. If you direct a visitor to take action on something in your sidebar, they’re likely to be frustrated by this mobile user experience.

When it Might Make Sense to Keep Your WordPress Sidebar

While many argue about the frustrating user experience and conversion killing aspects of using a sidebar, there are several situations where a sidebar can be a useful addition to your WordPress website:

To connect with readers.

Adding your bio on your sidebar is a great way to connect to your blog readers. Most author bios appear at the end of a blog but not every reader will make it all the way there. Using an author bio widget that dynamically changes for each author is a great way to build deeper relationships and loyalty with readers. Don’t forget to add in each author’s social media links, as well!

You Don’t Need to Remove the Sidebar from Every Page…

As you’ll soon learn, there are various tactics that you can use for WordPress sidebar removal on various posts and/or pages of your WordPress website.

Here’s the thing: you don’t need to remove WordPress sidebars entirely from your website—you should instead focus on removing them from posts and pages where they don’t add value.

Follow WordPress Sidebar Best Practices

A few quick hits for using WordPress sidebars the right way:

  • Minimize the number of widgets on your sidebar. Clutter is never a good look. Don’t be tempted to keep the default options just because they’re available and suggested.
  • Change how your “sidebar” widget displays on mobile so that it appears above your content, not below it.
  • Don’t forget to encourage new readers to subscribe. On Quick Sprout’s blog, Neil Patel demonstrated how effective this sidebar goal performed for his company.

WordPress Sidebar Removal 101 (or at Least Disable It)

You’ve had a chance to consider the WordPress sidebar from multiple angles. If you’re still reading, it’s because you’re ready to take action—giving your sidebar the boot. Let’s explore a few techniques.

Remove Sidebar on a Static Page

There are many WordPress themes that use a full-width page template. This template can be used on any static page of your WordPress website, so it displays a full-width page with no sidebar on either side of the main content area.

To enable the full-width template (and remove the WordPress sidebar), all you need to do is to edit individual static pages, as such:

  • Step 1: Select a specific page/post from the WordPress dashboard and click Edit.
  • Step 2: Navigate to the Page Attributes meta box, This is found to the ride side of the page editor.

Remove WordPress Sidebars

  • Step 3: Go to Template, then from the drop-down menu, select Fullwidth.

Remove WordPress Sidebars

If there’s no full-width option on the drop-down menu, it means that your template does not support this feature. You can still remove the sidebar manually, however.

  • Step 1: Save this code using a text editor, like Notepad:

<?php
/*
*
Template Name: Full-Width
*/
get_header(); ?>

  • Step 2: Connect to WordPress using your FTP client
  • Step 3: Navigate to the /wp-content/themes/your-current-theme/ folder
  • Step 4: Edit the file php and copy everything after the <?php get_header(); ?> line.
  • Step 5: Paste the code from the text file you saved, then locate and delete this line:

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>

  • Step 6: Save the changes on your file and rename it full-width.php, then upload it to your current theme folder.

Remove Sidebar on Your Entire Website

If you want to remove the sidebar on your entire WordPress website, on every page and post, you’ll want to use this method.

For this process, you’ll be required to edit WordPress theme files. To do this properly, you should first create a child theme and backup your website, in case you accidentally break something.

Here’s how to remove a WordPress sidebar from your entire website:

  • Step 1: Connect WordPress with your FTP client, then go to /wp-content/themes/your-current-theme/
  • Step 2: Locate the template files that have sidebars, displayed to edit. WordPress themes are made of different templates. A given template may or may not display the sidebar by default.

For those who aren’t sure of the difference between a WordPress template and theme:

A template is a part of a full web page in WordPress theme development. WordPress themes generate templates which represent different areas of the WordPress site. For example, header.php is the default template for the header area.

If you want to remove sidebars from your entire website, you must edit all of your templates files that have a sidebar in them. This may include index.php, archive.php, page.php, single.php, home.php—but you will have to check each template file to be sure.

  • Step 3: Locate this line of code on each template file:

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>

If your template consists of multiple sidebars, it will have a sidebar name in the function. For example, <?php get_sidebar('footer-widget-area'); ?>

  • Step 4: Delete the above-mentioned line of code, including any of the sidebars that you want to remove.
  • Step 5: Save the file, then repeat the process for other templates that have a sidebar that you want to remove.

This method for removing a WordPress sidebar will leave a white space where the sidebar was previously displayed. You’ll have to customize the width of your content area to fill in this space and make it full width by adding custom CSS to your theme.

Here’s how to do it:

Again—don’t forget to first make a child theme and backup your website, in case you accidentally mess up something during this process.

  • Step 1: From the WordPress dashboard, navigate to Themes > Customize. You will be redirected to the WordPress theme customizer interface, which shows your website in live preview while on customization mode.
  • Step 2: From the options on the left pane, look for the Additional CSS.
  • Step 3: You will be directed to an empty box where you can input custom CSS. Add valid custom CSS rules to change the width of your website.

Here’s a sample code you can use:

.content-area {
width: 100%;
margin: 0px;
border: 0px;
padding: 0px;
}
.content-area .site {
margin:0px;
}

Play with your margin and padding until it suits your needs.

  • Step 4: Save and publish your edits.

Take note that if you change the theme of your website, this custom CSS will also disappear, so you will have to repeat this process if you install a new theme with sidebars that you need to remove.

If your theme doesn’t support this additional CSS option, you can make changes using a plugin:

Simple Custom CSS Plugin

Simple Custom CSS is an easy to use WordPress plugin that allows you to add custom CSS to your current theme. This plugin is free to use.

Here’s how to use Simple Custom CSS:

  • Step 1: Install the Simple Custom CSS plugin and activate.
  • Step 2: Go to Appearance > Custom CSS and add your custom CSS (see example above).
  • Step 3: Click Update Custom CSS and check the result on your website preview.

Unlike going through this process with the WordPress theme customizer, changing your theme won’t affect this custom CSS, so you won’t have to repeat the process for a new theme. 

Remove the WordPress Sidebar from Blog Posts

It’s certainly possible to use a specific page template solely for blog posts, and another as a static page template. At this point, you already know how to remove a WordPress sidebar from a static page to make it a full-width page.

If you’re only interested in how to remove a WordPress sidebar from your blog or posts pages, and not other pages, here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Navigate from the WordPress dashboard to Settings > Reading to locate the page you’re using as the parent page for your blog posts.
  • Step 2: Locate this page under Pages > All pages, and edit it.
  • Step 3: Navigate to the Page Attributes meta box at the ride side of the page.
  • Step 4: Go to Template. On the dropdown menu, select Full width.

If there’s no full-width option on the dropdown, it means that your template does not support this feature. You can still do this manually, as explained earlier in this article.

Remove the WordPress Sidebar with One of These 5 Plugins

WordPress wouldn’t be WordPress if there weren’t plugins to easily and quickly solve your sidebar problems. If you don’t want to manually dig into the code, here are several plugin options for getting rid of the WordPress sidebar:

1. Custom Sidebars – Dynamic Widget Area ManagerCustom Sidebars Plugin

Custom Sidebars was developed by WPMU DEV and is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for customizing sidebars. It allows you to easily manage and replace sidebars and widgets on your WordPress website. Custom Sidebars offers a very flexible widget area manager and sidebar configuration tool.

Custom Sidebars is free with limited functionality, upgradeable to the Pro version for $49/month (with access to the rest of WPMU DEV’s library of plugins) for unlimited websites.

2. Content Aware Sidebars

Content Aware Sidebars plugin

Content Aware Sidebars claims to be the fastest and most powerful WordPress sidebar plugin yet. You can use this plugin to custom tailor your sidebar widgets for any post, page, or even custom post type, without the need for custom coding. It supports integrations with other popular plugins, such as WooCommerce, WPML, and Transposh.

The Pro version of Content Aware Sidebars starts at $49/year.

3. Fullwidth Templates for Any Theme & Page Builder

Fullwidth Templates for Any Theme & Page Builder is a fairly self-explanatory WordPress plugin that allows you to create full-width templates for any themes and page builders. It supports popular page builders including BeaverBuilder, Elementor, and Visual Composer.

Notable features of Fullwidth Templates for Any Theme & Page Builder include:

  • Fully blank template: no sidebar, footer, or header—just a plain canvas, ideal for landing pages.
  • Full-width template: Remove the sidebar and other elements to stretch the page into a full-width page, ideal for use with a page builder.
  • No sidebar: Simply remove your sidebar if your theme doesn’t support customization.

Best of all? It’s free to use!

4. Simple Page Sidebars

Simple Page Sidebars plugin

Simple Page Sidebars is a plugin that gives WordPress users the ability to assign custom sidebars to pages without a need for template changes. This means that you can easily disable and enable various WordPress sidebars as necessary, while also empowering you to edit existing sidebars.

Simple Page Sidebars was designed with easy and straightforward features, easily integrating with the WordPress admin dashboard. It allows you to modify a page’s sidebar without creating an unnecessary revision.

Simple Page Sidebars is completely free to use!

5. WP Widget Disable

WP Widget Disable plugin

WP Widget Disable is a very simple and straightforward WordPress plugin that allows you to disable any sidebars and dashboard widgets on your WordPress site. It offers a simple user interface that allows website managers to edit themes through edit_theme_option capabilities. Once installed and activated, this option appears under Appearance > Disable Widgets.

The WP Widget Disable plugin also offers the following filters if you want to keep some of your sidebars:

  • wp_widget_disable_default_sidebar_widgets – this will allow you to exclude certain sidebar widgets from being disabled.
  • wp_widget_disable_default_dashboard_widgets – this will allow you to exclude certain dashboard widgets from being disabled.

WP Widget Disable is also free to use!

Final Thoughts: Remove WordPress Sidebars on Any Website in 2 Minutes

Now that you know how to customize your WordPress website and remove the sidebar, it all comes down to whether you actually need to do it. Understand that you can remove your WordPress sidebar on individual pages and posts while still using it on others.

Want to give your feedback or join the conversation? Add your comments 🐦 on Twitter.

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