WordPress Twenty Eleven: give us back our sidebar!

Last night I upgraded my self-hosted WordPress installation to version 3.2, which was officially released yesterday. I like the look of the new version, at least as far as I can tell so far. If anyone notices any strange or different behaviour on this blog which might be caused by this upgrade, or for that matter if it might not, please let me know in a comment or via the contact form.

For anyone who would like to join me in self-hosted WordPress blogging, I can recommend Jeremy Myers’ current series Start Blogging in 5 Simple Steps.

Twenty Eleven theme screenshotI like the look of the Twenty Eleven theme, which is the new default in WordPress 3.2. I would like to update Gentle Wisdom to use it, instead of my current Twenty Ten theme. I would customise the header to keep my current image, but in a rather deeper format so I could use more of the original.

But I discovered a fatal flaw in the Twenty Eleven theme which makes it quite unusable for me: it does not show the sidebar on single posts and pages, but only on the front page.


Now why on earth should a theme do that? Well, I suppose some people want a really clean view when they view a single post or page. But most of us bloggers, and that includes anyone wanting to make money from advertising, are using our sidebars to show all kinds of important or interesting things. Currently I have 22 widgets in mine. And we want, or need, these to be visible to all our readers, not just to the minority who read our front page.

Now admittedly some of these widgets could be put in the footer area, which is always displayed. Perhaps I should do that with some of my current widgets. But with many of them there are good reasons for not putting them in the footer. Advertisements and some other material need to be prominent, not at the bottom of the page where they are often not seen.

I read somewhere that it is in fact very easy to modify the Twenty Eleven theme (but presumably only on self-hosted WordPress, not on a WordPress.com hosted blog) to make that sidebar reappear. The problem with that is that, as Twenty Eleven is part of a WordPress 3.2 installation, any modifications will be automatically overwritten whenever WordPress is updated. Anyway, I don’t want to get into editing PHP as I don’t know the language well.

It would be very easy for Matt Mullenweg and his team to upgrade Twenty Eleven with a simple option to retain or remove the sidebar from single posts and pages. It would probably be quite easy for someone with the right skills to write a simple plugin to add this option. With that small addition the Twenty Eleven theme would be so much better. So give us back our sidebar, as an option. Please!

34 thoughts on “WordPress Twenty Eleven: give us back our sidebar!

  1. Glad you found a theme with a sidebar. It looks good.

    Thanks for mentioning my post here. Eventually I will allow guest posts for blogging tips and have a Question and Answer section. So as you set up your self-hosted blog, make note of any tips you want to pass on to others (like this one on this post), or any questions you have. They might make good posts on Grace Blogger.

  2. Thanks, Jeremy. I will bear that in mind. I seriously considered moving to the Standard Theme as you suggested, at the discount price, but decided that I didn’t want to pay for gimmicky appearance when it’s not as good for the really important things like SEO as Yoast’s free plugin.

  3. Pingback: WordPress Twenty Eleven, here we are - Gentle Wisdom

  4. Thank you, Bart. That is certainly a simpler solution in some ways. The problem is that any edits to the theme will be automatically overwritten when WordPress is updated, as the theme is part of WordPress. I don’t want that happening. That is why I prefer a solution using a child theme or a plugin. Maybe a child theme could override the default function twentyeleven_body_classes with a null function, but I don’t know enough about PHP to know how that would work.

  5. Good point, I hope that the next update solves this issue, or at least adds it as an option. I don’t mind my php files being overwritten if that’s the case 😉

  6. Agreed, Bart! The number of hits I have had on this post today suggests that quite a lot of people want this feature or option. And it would be very easy for WordPress to offer. So perhaps they will. Perhaps someone should create a trac ticket for this one. There doesn’t seem to be one yet.

  7. When writing a Post or Page, you can set the Template to Sidebar Template.

    It seems the Default Template has no sidebar, but they also provide a sidebar version. (Unfortunately, I see no way of setting it as the default template.)

  8. Pingback: How To Add The Sidebar To Twenty Eleven

  9. To avoid the problem over overwriting the theme modifications with every update, is to make a copy of the theme that you plan to modify, change the name in the styles.css file and then use that theme as your theme of choice. On an update you might want to compare your custom theme with the updated version it is based on, but that’s necessary only if there are real bugs fixed in the theme – not the case very often.

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  11. Pingback: 7-31-2011 Twenty Eleven Header Image Poll | A Dreamer's Limbo

  12. Pingback: 8-6-2011 WordPress.com Twenty Eleven Theme Header Images | A Dreamer's Limbo

  13. “But I discovered a fatal flaw in the Twenty Eleven theme which makes it quite unusable for me: it does not show the sidebar on single posts and pages, but only on the front page.”
    And I am very disappointed! I have “Twenty Eleven”. ALL OF MY BLOG POSTS APPEAR on the start page. Since today it has been like that, and I can’t do anything about it. It doesn’t matter how many times I write “10” and “Save”. All my blog posts are there – the world longest scroll ig I write 1000 blog posts.
    And I don’t get support – I have tried.

    A big hug from Sweden!
    / Yvonne

  14. WordPress.com recently released a test on the 2011 Theme that does indeed (eventually) show ALL your posts on the front page and not the 10 or whatever number you have set. It also removes the footer on the front page.

    This is intentional and not well received. It is a prefetching bit of code that assumes it would be easier on the visitor to just scroll down to find more content rather than clicking “past entries” or “older posts” in the bottom navigation. Unfortunately, many WordPress Theme designers skipped the lesson in “must show navigation on multiple post pageviews to old content” and didn’t feature that navigation. This allows the user to keep scrolling and scrolling while the Theme fetches the older content automatically.

    More unfortunately, it slows down the page, eats up bandwidth for those on limited access to the web, and is frustrating many as they put a lot of work and dependence into their footer and it’s gone on the front page, though visible on all single post pageviews.

    This is not a bug. It is a new “feature” which many hope will become optional.

  15. Thank you, Lorelle. I would also say that many users including myself have included important legal disclaimers in our page footers, on the assumption that this material will be visible on every page. I suspect that WordPress could get in legal trouble for suppressing this information without informing users of the change.

  16. Not sure about that as it appears on EVERY other page, but it’s a good point.

    Right now, it is in testing so we’ll see what happens. An opt in or out would be best.

  17. Steven, all I can add to what I wrote above is that on another site I am now successfully using Twenty Eleven Theme Extensions plugin by Mike Walker, MozTools, which allows me, as an option, a sidebar on all posts and pages.

  18. So are you still using the “Twenty Eleven Theme Extensions plugin by Mike Walker, MozTools” for your sidebar? I really want a sidebar in my individual posts, and yours looks really good here. If that’s what is still working for you, please let me know so that I can try it. Thanks! 🙂

  19. Katy, I am currently using “Twenty Eleven Child with Sidebar Support Version: 1.1 By Chris Aprea”. It appears to be working OK for me, but I have only blogged and commented here occasionally for the last two years or so.

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