70 Responses

  1. Jason
    Jason Published |

    “Aside” sounds the most reasonable to me… the others either remind me of code, are too verbose/long or don’t sound like they belong to a theme.

    Reply
  2. Thomas Clausen
    Thomas Clausen Published |

    Coming from the land of Lego (Denmark), I would go with blocks, bricks or modules.

    It gives the pages on a site a building metaphor, that I can relate to as a non-technical user.

    Reply
  3. Erin
    Erin Published |

    Justin, my apologies if you’ve answered this a thousand times, but why do you think sidebar is not semantic? I always assumed it was a term borrowed from the print world where it refers to a brief news story presenting sidelights on a major story. And that it in fact was borrowed from the legal world where it means a conversation between the lawyers and the judge that is held out of the jury’s hearing. In other words, the side in sidebar does not refer to location but rather its relation to the main proceedings. Isn’t that the very definition of semantic?

    By the way, I still think you should change the name, regardless of its semantic worthiness, just as a way to make people more mindful of its possibilities. I think that is why they stopped calling automobiles “horseless carriages.” So, with that in mind, my suggestions are mobilebar or flexibar if you still want to reflect its location, or something more poetic like sidestream or tributary if you want to stress its function. Yes. I’m serious.

    Reply
  4. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    We call them widget areas internally. Works for us and our clients. Currently building a site that creates them on the fly each time you use certain page templates, as many pages are nothing more than a whole pile of widget areas (9 each, typically) and sidebars sounds very wrong!

    Reply
  5. Cellobella
    Cellobella Published |

    How about widgspots or wareas or widglocs (widget locations)…

    Gotta start the brainstorming somewhere…
    :)

    Reply
  6. Jason
    Jason Published |

    I actually prefer the last two. Calling them widget areas or widget sections or widget blocks. If I had to drop “widget” then I think I prefer block.

    As as aside, the problem with aside is that it already exists in the WordPress Codex, and it means something else. http://codex.wordpress.org/Adding_Asides

    Reply
  7. Adam W. Warner
    Adam W. Warner Published |

    If the widget screen is to display this:

    You are using 1 widget in the “Header Section” sidebar

    …then I would suggest Block, Widget Area, or Widget Section.

    You are using 1 widget in the “Header” widget section

    or

    You are using 1 widget in the “Header” widget area

    These may be simplifying things a little to much, but as WordPress becomes more and more popular, anything else would be confusing to the average user.

    Reply
  8. dinu
    dinu Published |

    quite interesting discussion …. still tough for me to digest … needs another read, sorry

    Reply
  9. Elliot
    Elliot Published |

    From W3Schools
    “The aside content should be related to the article’s content.”
    this is seldom true for blogroll links or link to news around the net. You could have an article about an space shuttle crash and and a link to some news about a new teddy bear in the market.
    I call them widget areas, that’s what they are, there’s no need to substitute the term with another term. In special custom themes don’t even use the get_sidebar but the includepath with the name of the widget area.
    Widget section could work too, widget tray. However, it would be nice to identify them with a single word.

    Reply
  10. Andrew
    Andrew Published |

    Asides, as defined in HTML 5 are not appropriate for this. They have a specific semantic connection to the article which wouldn’t be true of most widgets.

    HTML 5 uses sections to define areas on the page. It seems to be as though a sidebar that is not in the sidebar (or even if it is really) is just a section into which content can be placed, so just called it a section.

    It is usually best to go with terminology that already means the thing you are describing.

    Reply
  11. TheFrosty @WPCult
    TheFrosty @WPCult Published |

    I like where Adam is going..

    Reply
  12. Roger Benningfield
    Roger Benningfield Published |

    A couple suggestions I’ve seen in use outside of WordPress for basically the same thing:

    * pods
    * regions

    Or you could call them what you’d call ‘em if you were just looking at the HTML:

    * divs

    Reply
  13. Ptah Dunbar
    Ptah Dunbar Published |

    I’m liking “block” and “section” (not widget section) the most. It might not be the most understandable names at first, but widgets have the possibility of getting placed anywhere in the theme.

    btw, kill the word module. It brings back some terrible old memories :/

    Reply
  14. Ray
    Ray Published |

    I like to think from the point of view of someone who isn’t technically-literate.

    Although “aside” is a semantic, technical term brought forth in HTML 5, I prefer the more, natural-sounding “block”.

    Reply
  15. Tibor
    Tibor Published |

    I too would go for “Widget Section” or -Area; it might be somewhat of a mouthfull, but it in my opinion it represents best what it is (as in: most Dummy Proof).

    BTW: I never noticed how WP showed the widget sections the (unlogical) way it does, until I read it here :-) Even so I totally agree it needs an update.

    Reply
  16. Pangeran
    Pangeran Published |

    I call it zone(s).
    The one on the side is still sidebar, other placement, I call them zone.

    Top Heade Zone
    Top Post Zone
    Bottop Post Zone
    Footer Zone

    Reply
  17. Joe
    Joe Published |

    I like “modules” the best myself. The term has worked well for Joomla. The actual definition seems to be exactly what we’re discussing…

    mod⋅ule (noun) – a separable component, frequently one that is interchangeable with others, for assembly into units of differing size, complexity, or function.

    Reply
  18. damjang
    damjang Published |

    I like the term “widget area” or in one word warea (or w-area). My second preference is widget section (wsection). And then if I must chose from the posted list I prefer block or section.

    Reply
  19. Tobsy
    Tobsy Published |

    I really don’t like “asides”. It implies a relation between the post/page, that doesn’t necessarily exist. I can imagine that being rather confusing to newbies.

    Sidebar is a location, as would be topbar, bottombar or whatever.

    A widget area should be named by its function, and since everyone is already calling it widget area, when they discuss ist – why not use that? If it’s too long for in-script-use, just use “widgets” as in “widgets-after-content.php” and “get_widgets(‘after-content.php’);” internally and “widget area” externally (in user interactions).

    Oh, and “modules” would be more appropriate for plugins than for widgets.

    Well, just my 2 cents.

    Reply
  20. Alec
    Alec Published |

    Hello Justin,

    While I appreciate your issue with sidebar, all of the solutions are worse than the problem.

    Sidebar is pretty clear (it can even be a header).

    Sure – we could call them navigation zones or widget zones or just zones but how is that better than sidebar now?

    PS. I just noticed Pangeran suggested zones as well – perhaps zones might work then – if that’s what two of us came up with independently.

    Reply
  21. Alec
    Alec Published |

    Pods reminds me of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Please not pods.

    I will have to consider switching platforms if pods is adopted.

    Reply
  22. Pangeran
    Pangeran Published |

    Glad someone have same opinion with me. :D

    Reply
  23. Adam W. Warner
    Adam W. Warner Published |

    Justin,

    When will you make your decision?

    Reply
  24. Andrew
    Andrew Published |

    I think the most important thing is to use plain English. Ask some fool off the street what they would call part of the page that has been divided so it is apart from the main content so that other content can be put into it. (try explaining that without using any of the terms already mentioned)

    It needs to make sense to someone coming from another platform who knows nothing about WordPress and, quite possibly, nothing about HTML. It also needs to not confuse matters when someone does know HTML. For example, if HTML had a tag then we that should only be used to name some WP functionality if it is actually that tag that will be used, in the way the specs intend.

    In that way you shouldn’t use Aside because you could be talking about an HTML aside or a WP aside. I also think widgets are a bad description because the word doesn’t mean anything. Module sounds realistic but it also sounds like it is describing the WP functionality instead of the content and it is the end content that actually matters. What if you wanted to add content to a ‘content-place’ without using a widget or module?

    Reply
  25. EinBauStrahler
    EinBauStrahler Published |

    To call it a zone is no good idea.

    Reply
  26. Deb
    Deb Published |

    My favorite is module or mod, second would be block. Both to me mean they can be used anywhere. Sidebar indicates it must be used or is only on the side. I would just be happy if they chose something that didn’t indicate it’s location specific. They could actually keep “sidebar” and add a new term for other locations.

    Reply
  27. iman
    iman Published |

    I think, zones it a good idea. Im not a total newbie. But zone makes more sense. Aside might be friendly to developers but not to newbies or average users.

    Zone makes perfect sense. Any one who dosent know whats a zone is a total goofball.

    That said, i hope there’s a standard and i hope it will be out fast. As the longer they wait more terminology will appear and in the end it will just screw up the main idea.

    Reply
  28. Lorelle
    Lorelle Published |

    As you can tell, naming things isn’t as easy as it appears. Asides do have a long history and is a specific search term when people are looking for “asides” in WordPress, so that name would cause confusion, which you don’t need for something as valuable as the WordPress Widgets that break the sidebar barrier. That’s ground breaking, so give them the respect and unique value they deserve.

    As someone who has spent much of her life as an editorial technical writer, choosing the name of something that you want to have great use and repeated coverage is very hard. Two examples are the naming of “Pages” in WordPress (Pages with a cap P not lower case to differentiate it from web “pages” which can be posts or Pages – don’t get me started on that stupid decision of which I was a part of and lost) and Dashboard, which is actually used to represent the administration area of a competitor, and should not have been used, but was, though it only represents one panel in the WordPress Administration Panels, which others call the “dashboard” by mistake, making the competitor unhappy at times.

    It’s best to avoid all such confusion.

    Personally, my recommendation would be as simple as others have mentioned repeatedly here. K.I.S.S.

    Call them WordPress Widgets and announce that they have broken the sidebar barrier. Their placement is based upon where they are to be found within the WordPress template files, such as the header, footer, post content, sidebar 1, sidebar 2, category, archives, author, etc.

    Why not create a WordPress Widget that only appears on Author template files?

    Remember, you are dealing with WordPress Widgets. Google’s got Widgets, Yahoo’s got Widgets, everyone’s got Widgets. So you have to be very specific with which kind of Widgets you are talking about, as well as where their specific use would be.

    For those WordPress Widgets that break the sidebar barrier to be displayed anywhere in your WordPress Theme, then call them “breakout WordPress Widgets” or “Unlimited WordPress Widgets” to classify them separately. After all, why can’t I put the most recent posts lists in my header? Why not? :D

    Thank you for bringing this up. It has long been an issue with me on many levels. And I do hope you are listening to the input as you are hearing some resounding truth. Which means that no matter what you think the words should be, the community will call it what they will. :D

    Reply
  29. christopher
    christopher Published |

    I’ve been having the exact same naming issue so I’m reading this post with a lot of interest. It is becoming an issue as wordpress themes evolve away from standard formats and widget use over the entire page is becoming common. having three widget columns in a footer and calling them sidebars is silly.

    I’ll throw my vote in for ‘module’

    Reply
  30. dave
    dave Published |

    I’m behind this all the way.

    How about calling them “boxes”? Boxes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and you put stuff (like widgets) in boxes… Clients should have an easy time with that one.

    Reply
  31. Ptah Dunbar.com
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  33. Michael
    Michael Published |

    I’m not a huge fan of “module,” although I can’t pinpoint why. “Boxes” is too general — usually “sidebar” denotes anything that’s not the main content section, but since the main content section could itself be called a “box”, you lose the distinction.

    So I’ll throw my own suggestion into the mix: “peripheral”.

    Reply
  34. DNN
    DNN Published |

    Widgetary – a place for keeping widgets confined.

    Reply
  35. Jason
    Jason Published |

    I like “tray” mentioned by Elliot

    Reply
  36. Cemal
    Cemal Published |

    In HTML and Web design, the term “sidebar” has come to mean “an area that has either specific functionality or micro content.” In the world of blogging and blog software this usage might have changed a little, yet still retains the general spirit. If the main content area is akin to a “line function” the sidebar area is like a “staff function” in organizations. A blog can exist without a sidebar but not without the content area. At the same time, tying the name to widgets may be near-sighted as different functionality will arrive for this I’m sure. Keep in mind that the functionality now associated with the sidebar will likely be available for other parts of a theme, so a new term must not refer to its position.

    With this frame in mind, a few names come to my mind:
    drop box
    function box
    function room
    mini arena
    function drop (frop?)
    staff box
    locker
    functionium (I’m going out on a limb here!)

    … and considering that the meaning may be assigned to any symbol, word, or sign this kind of area in a theme or layout can be called essentially anything. “Window box”, “flower bed”, or plain old gibberish “F-spot” of which multiples may exist in a theme.

    My two cents’ worth.

    Reply
  37. Jane Wells
    Jane Wells Published |

    Hi Justin. Thought I’d chime in since there are a few comments in this thread where you wish there was an official response. We haven’t been talking about changing the names of widgets/sidebars in this release, though we have been working on making widget management better (turns out, it’s really hard!).

    Personally, I’ve never been fond of the use of the term ‘widget’ because some of our widgets are just navigation modules (I tend toward the word module over widget unless describing the insertion of third-party functionality, like with the Flickr widget, but that’s just me), and I do agree that ‘sidebar’ isn’t always description based on position. I like some of the suggestions made here.

    I’m just the UI/UX person, so there may be technical considerations that make updating the names undesirable that I’m not aware of, but I can promise to at least get a conversation started with the core devs about it. Wouldn’t be on the table for 2.8 since it’s almost freeze time, but we’ve been thinking about some other nav label updates and such in the next release cycle, so it’s a good time to start thinking about it. When we get there, if it is in fact open to re-naming, I can put up a poll on the dev blog or something to gauge community opinion.

    Reply
  38. Kian Ann
    Kian Ann Published |

    Heh Justin, I thought about this naming thing before, and you are right on.

    I guess it sidebars is quite inappropriate, but all the generic ones like area, module, zone etc all should work – I feel that it is the job of the theme user to read up and understand what the “area”, or “module” means.

    Reply
  39. Chris Drost
    Chris Drost Published |

    In KDE they’re called “panels.”

    Reply
  40. Jon
    Jon Published |

    What about cubicles?

    Cubicles are predefined areas with modular elements that can be arranged in various ways to perform different tasks. They are normally installed by professionals. However, the end user is given the ability to configure the area to match his or her needs based on both form and function.

    Reply
  41. Ms. C
    Ms. C Published |

    I would really like to see them renamed. Offhand, I think the term “Widget Area” is clunky but very workable. I periodically have to explain to clients that the third sidebar in their theme is actually their footer or somesuch. Most of them get it quickly, but at first they’re just confused.

    These clients do know what widgets are, so they’d get that. I think it would also propagate well into common usage. I’ve actually had clients moving off Blogger ask where the Footer widgets went (and had to explain to them that it’s not a given w/Wordpress).

    Reply
  42. Maria
    Maria Published |

    I *hate* the term “aside”. Semantically that already has a meaning (a box pushed to the side of the content with related info). Not to mention I use “aside” already for a class in my personal CSS framework that styles a block-level element as an aside.

    This is a bummer since I’m loving Thematic otherwise.

    Drupal calls them “regions” which is a fine choice. Why not standardize terminology when we’re talking about the same thing? Drupal calls widgets “blocks”, so I really think that blocks would be a crazy-inducing choice for those of us who have to live in both worlds.

    Widget area works for me just fine too! Just call them areas in the API if you don’t like two words in function names.

    Reply
  43. EMG
    EMG Published |

    Caught you posting in the WP.org forums and thought I would drop by and take a peek at your blog and ended up finding this article.

    Personally speaking, I call that ‘sidebar’… whatever the heck I want to, depending on its functionality per site specifications and sometimes, location.

    I’ve called it a sidebar because it’s aside from my normal content and it’s a long vertical bar. I’ve called it a sidecolumn because the theme I was working with called it a column in their style sheet. I’ve called it a navbar because its whole purpose in that particular theme was to provide navigation for the rest of the site. I’ve called it a topbar and bottombar because they were literally bars on either the top or the bottom of my layout. I have also called it simply, a widget container because my client wanted flexibility in where s/he placed the widget block and calling it a widget container seemed to suit their needs the best.

    With that said, I definitely can see where the necessity for a new naming convention shows itself.

    Sidebars do NOT have to be on the side and furthermore, like you mention in your post, the sidebar is often a container for widgets – widgets that people want to place elsewhere on their site and not just to the side of their main content.

    Coming from working with total WP and front-end newbies, though, I have to say that the reason the sidebar terminology has yet to go anywhere fast is because even outside of the WP community a good majority of people tend to call that narrow strip that doesn’t feature their main content their ‘sidebar’. Doesn’t matter what the ‘sidebar’ contains or where exactly the ‘sidebar’ is placed, but as long as it’s long and narrow either up and down or left and right, it’s called a ‘sidebar’ or a something-bar. Navbar, topbar, bottombar, sidebar, candybar etc. … Okay, sort of joking with the candybar bit, but you get the point.

    Sidebar – whether it makes sense to call it a sidebar or not – simply sounds ‘right’ to a lot of people and quite possibly because the front-end web development community (maybe the backend, too?), continues to call that narrow column or row a ‘sidebar’.

    In light of the fact that WP uses sidebars to house widgets and that you have to ‘widgetize’ your ‘sidebar’, I, like you, really think that the sidebar needs to be named something that makes even MORE sense than ‘sidebar’.

    Widget block, widget area, widget container (I particularly am fond of that one as it implies that the widget is housed within it, but implies little else in terms of where it can be placed which in turn opens up possibilities), widget… something. Widget-ready Containers? Gah, I don’t know!

    The sidebar can still be a sidebar, because… well, just saying it makes one picture a layout that has a main content and a narrower side column with whatever the user wants to put in it, but to limit the widgets to the term ‘sidebar’ doesn’t sit right with me because the widgets themselves can and should be placed wherever the user sees fit.

    … Would it be possible to keep the sidebar terminology and add a widget-specific terminology for containers dedicated specifically to widgets or would that simply compound the problem we’re already having with naming schematics?

    Here’s a sample description:

    Enigmatic-FLEX is a flexible-width 2 column design with a wide main content area along with a narrower sidebar area that is suitable for widgets and features additional widget-ready containers to be placed wherever they are necessary.

    … Did that even make sense? Sorry if it didn’t!

    Anyhow… I definitely agree with you for many reasons, but can see why the movement isn’t… moving and potentially won’t move. What confusion!

    Reply
  44. Jason
    Jason Published |

    I agree completely with a name change! Widget can stay, but I’m not sure there needs to be another name other than the name you create for a widgetized area. If I create a header with a widgetized area and have one widget, then it should simply state ( if it needs to be stated it at all ) that I have 1 widget in the Header.

    Lose ‘sidbar’ for the general naming of these areas as WordPress has outgrown this nomenclature.

    Great topic.

    Reply
  45. Jason
    Jason Published |

    hit send by mistake …

    As for a general all purpose name of widgetized content … Container. Simple and is what it is regardless of location … parent ‘container’.

    Reply
  46. Zip
    Zip Published |

    Since we’re ‘plugging stuff in’ to these areas/regions/whatever, does the term ‘socket’ make sense?

    Reply
  47. Bethany Trinoble
    Bethany Trinoble Published |

    socket makes a lot of sense but whichever you choose it will be a battle to get it accepted, people in general don’t like change.

    Reply
  48. Barny
    Barny Published |

    What about an acronym like WRA? But any name change will be difficult, as the above poster has mentioned, people don’t like change.

    Reply
  49. niki
    niki Published |

    how about sidespot? sounds funny right :-D

    Reply
  50. Shaquille
    Shaquille Published |

    I like the term “widget area” or in one word warea (or w-area). My second preference is widget section (wsection). And then if I must chose from the posted list I prefer block or section.

    Reply
  51. Slotted
    Slotted Published |

    With my clients, I refer to them as widgetized content areas. We used to call them content modules when we were using the kubrick content module (sbm), but that changed with the 2.7 upgrade – WP went to widgets and support for sbm was discontinued.

    Reply
  52. Casey
    Casey Published |

    I’m a big fan of modules and the idea of modular development. My biggest frustration with widgets is that it seems limited to this sidebar area and in some cases, some WordPress functions misbehave if placed after a widget…

    Just recently, I wanted to have the latest post excerpt of a specific category show up in the footer (so on all pages) and struggled with the loop over multiple files… I ended up repeating code and markup unnecessarily because I couldn’t get it to work. Of course, that’s the loop, but it’s also an example of where having that functionality in a widget in the FOOTER would be awesome

    Reply
  53. yehoshanah
    yehoshanah Published |

    EMR said it: (widgetized) BAR(s). Then we can keep the use of side-bar for sides and have nav-BARS for navigation etc … menu-bar, top-bar, bottom-bar, this-bar, that-bar… (I did prefer panel, area or sections while drop box and tray seem horizontal etc.) In any case why go longer than just BAR with a side-bar-panel-section-area – Just stick the widgets in a BAR :)

    Reply
  54. gstorm
    gstorm Published |

    I think modules would be better for when backpress is out. Modules could then be the components that hook into the framework. i.e. bbpress and wp would be modules.
    Developers would then be able to create modules extending the basic framework.
    This is where your other tutorials on custome taxonomies would really come in handy.
    I think blocks better represent what the template is doing, creating widget blocks on the layout for the page.

    Reply
  55. andri
    andri Published |

    I still confuse using the theme… when i need to hide the widget where can i do that?

    Reply
  56. Peter
    Peter Published |

    I personally quite like the term sidebar, and think it describes the function rather well. I guess something like ‘widget space’ is a bit more web 2.0 and is also pretty apt.

    Reply
  57. Tom
    Tom Published |

    I like “block” as in main block, header block, footer block, widget block. Now maybe “block” is not the right word, but my point is this discussion really seems to be about is the lack of a common term for all the building blocks that make up a WordPress-generated page. The sidebar is just one of those building blocks.

    Reply
  58. Tony
    Tony Published |

    I’d suggest ‘auxiliary’, or abbreviated to ‘aux’.
    We use it for audio etc . . .

    Otherwise, ‘Supplementary’ is a good one.

    auxBar? auxBlock?
    suppBar? suppBlock?

    Reply
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  60. John
    John Published |

    “siderbar” is good for me!

    Reply
  61. WhiskeyJim
    WhiskeyJim Published |

    Been awhile since I visited the great WP guru site:)

    I like ‘modules’ because it describes the true functionality of a sidebar’s only half functional purpose. Inspired developers are doing two things which are not necessarily connected; developing functionality in ‘widgets’ and plug-ins, and making themes which define where that functionality is placed. WP should more formally separate the two ideas and free up the whole design process.

    There is a basic core of functions (Heading, post article, footer, print function, zoom, menu, meta, comments) that should arguably be available out of the box in any theme so that users can utilize themes straight out of the box.

    But the user or developer should be able to place website functions or elements (including headings, posts, footers, print functions, menus, meta, comments) in modules anywhere on the screen. Themes would then be a set of predefined ‘templates’ incorporating a combination of functions that users could choose for each page, or create additional ones themselves.

    Think of the Blogger design interface for a constrained illustration. Headway gets a lot closer, allowing graphical drag and drop design, but it slows the site down because the functionality should be in the core (I also believe WP should be compilable, so to speak, into html without so many calls during page generation).

    If you get my meaning, then even the posts area is really just a function to be placed inside a module. The idea of a separate widget area in the WP core, separate from built-in functions, would disappear; developers would merely add their own inspirations to the base functions that are shipped with WP in the first place. In other words, ‘plug-ins’ would download into the same place that posts, etc. reside.

    In still other words, the post loop is just a widget treated differently and hard coded. I believe the WP core structure ultimately slows down the WP engine, especially as plug-ins with varying quality are added. The whole thing should be built with modularity in mind, which would naturally clean up a great deal of current widget and plug-in leaks and errors, and free up the whole website design process.

    This modularity approach would also provide developers like Justin with the potential for a fantastic leap forward in functionality:)

    Reply
  62. Dave
    Dave Published |

    I’d like to throw “precincts” into the pot ;o)

    Reply
  63. Sandro
    Sandro Published |

    The term sidebar doesn’t sound too bad to me, and I guess it describes its function pretty well. I actually wouldn’t like it to see it replaced. Among the other suggested terms, “widget area” would be fine to me, although a bit too much typing.

    Reply

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