Whether you own or develop a blog, web magazine or any other kind of website that uses a sidebar, it might be a good idea to make it stick. A sticky sidebar won’t disappear from the screen once a visitor scrolls down a large content. That way, potentially important sidebar information will always be visible on the screen. In this article, we tested and reviewed the best free WordPress Sticky Sidebar Plugins currently available.
Advantages of a Sticky Sidebar
Sidebars may contain all kinds of useful additional information depending of the website type and purpose. In WordPress, sidebar content is added trough widgets. Some of those widgets might be more important than others, and it would be a shame if they disappear out of the screen as visitors scroll down the content. Using a sticky sidebar WordPress plugin will solve that problem.
Sidebar widgets that you might want to be always visible to your visitors could be elements like:
- calls to action
- opt-in forms (newsletter sign up, registration forms)
- contact forms
- various advertisements and banners
- featured, related or latest posts
By using a WordPress Sticky Sidebar you can have full control on which sidebar elements will be visible all the time and which will move on together with the content. The sticky sidebar will stop moving and stick to the top of the screen when it reaches it. It is also possible to make the sidebar stick when the desired widget reaches the top of the screen.
Of course, using a WordPress Sticky Sidebar to accentuate important sidebar elements makes sense only on desktop computer screens, laptops and tablets. By responsive design, on smartphones the sidebar widgets usually come after the main content and there’s no reason to make them stick.
Pro Tip: Did you know you can create different sidebars for different post types or parts of your website? To learn more about it read our tutorial on how to register sidebars and add widget areas to WordPress themes.
How we tested the WordPress Sticky Sidebar Plugins
Since there’s not a wide choice of WordPress Sticky Sidebar Plugins in the WP Plugin Repository, we picked the three most popular. Firstly we checked how they perform their task. All plugins do their job well, each with some unique properties. Furthermore, we tested the plugins by the following criteria:
- ease of use (setting up)
- performance of the plugin
- advanced features
- plugin weight and loading speed impact
Read our review carefully, so you can choose the right plugin for your specific project.
A sticky sidebar will stop when it reaches a predefined position, which is a great way to keep your most important sidebar elements in focus of the visitor.
WP Sticky Sidebar WordPress plugin
WP Sticky Sidebar by Premio has more than 10.000 active installations and an 5.0 average vote by over 60 developers. The plugin is frequently updated and compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
In most WordPress themes WP Sticky Sidebar will work perfectly out of the box. Since there’s most likely no need for additional setting up, this sticky sidebar plugin is suitable for beginners an non coders. The specific behavior of this plugin is that the sidebar stops and sticks when the last widget enter the screen. On that behalf, you need to position the widgets you want to remain visible in the lower part of the sidebar, after less important widgets. That’s a nice feature since you can let scroll the less important sidebar elements and stick the most important ones located in the lower part of the sidebar. This way you’ll make sure the visitor will see all the sidebar widgets.
WP Sticky Sidebar comes with a couple of customizing options located inside the WordPress Dashobard Settings tab. As mentioned earlier, the plugin will most probably work perfectly without the need for any setup. The most imortant setting is the sidebar element id. If your theme sidebar doesn’t have the default ID #secondary, you might need to adjust that setting. There’s also an option to disable the sticky sidebar on moblie devices, which we suggest to turn on. You can also disable sticking by defining the minimum screen width. Disabling the sticky sidebar is also possible for different post types and website sections, such as posts, pags, homepage, archives etc.
The WP Sticky Sidebar plugin generates only 2 server requests, which is considered quite lightweight. It won’t impact website loading speed significantly.
- works out of the box
- simple setup, often not needed
- customization options
- no significant downsides
Sticky Menu (or Anything!) on Scroll WordPress plugin
Sticky Menu (or Anything!) on Scroll by WebFactory is the most popular “sticky elements” plugin with over 100.000 active installations. More than 200 developers gave this plugin a 5.0 vote. The plugin is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and it’s regularly updated. Part of the popularity it owes to the fact it’s used not just for sticky sidebars, but also headers, menus, or any other page element.
Upon installation, you have to go customize a couple of basic settings, located inside the WordPress Dashboard Settingem tab. Firstly you have to set the sticky element id or class. In most cases, your sidebar’s id is #secondary. With that set up, your sticky sidebar is ready to go.
Contrary to the behavior of the WP Sticky Sidebar plugin, this plugin stops the sidebar as soon as it reaches the top of the screen. This is why you should put your most important sidebar widgets in the upper part the sidebar. The downside of this behavior it hat if you have a lot of widgets in your sidebar, the lower ones might not be seen. There are to ways of fixing this problem. One option is to set a negative top margin in the plugin settings and let the top part of the sidebar scroll away for the defined margin value. The other option is to set the Push up element id inside the advanced settings. The Push up element can be any element that comes after the content section, or for example the footer. When you scroll down to it, it will push up the (invisible) rest of the sidebar. By combining those two options, you can achieve some nice sticky sidebar effects. To disable the sticky sidebar on smartphones, you should also set the minimal screen width when the sidebar will become sticky.
Sticky Menu (or Anything!) on Scroll is another very good solution to create a WordPress Sticky sidebar, when set up properly. The plugin won’t make a significant impact on the website loading speed since it generates only 2 server requests.
- simple settings
- customizable stop position
- customizable push up element
- might need some experience and take some time to configure it perfectly
- not suitable for sidebars with lots of widgets
Q2W3 Fixed Widget WP plugin
Q2W3 Fixed Widget by WP Advanced Ads is another good WordPress sticky header plugin with over 100.000 active installations and an 4.5 average vote by over 200 developers. It ‘s not as frequently updated as the previous plugins but its still compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
The plugin has a couple of basic settings, located in the WordPress Dashboard Appearance tab. The only thing you need to set up there is the minimal screen width to disable the sticky header on smartphones. Eventually, you can define the Stop ID which is the id of the element that will push up the sidebar when it reaches it.
The difference between Q2W3 Fixed Widget and other WordPress sticky sidebar plugins is the way it works. This plugin doesn’t stop the sidebar when it reaches the screen top or when the last widget comes up. Instead, this plugin let’s you choose which sidebar widgets you want to make sticky. Therefore, to make your sidebar sticky, you need to go into your Dashboard’s Widgets section, where you’ll notice a new checkbox on each widget saying Fixed widget. Marking a desired widget will make the sidebar stop when that widget reaches the top of the screen. The best practice in this case would be to position the most important widgets in the middle of the sidebar and mark the Fixed widget checkbox on it and every following widget. Furthermore, by adjusting the top and bottom margin in the plugin settings you can achieve very nice sticky sidebar effects.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget WordPress sticky sidebar plugin is as lightweight as it’s competitors, and with only 2 server requests won’t significantly affect your website’s loading speed.
- few simple settings
- stop position defined by widget
- customizable push up element
- initial setup might be a bit confusing due to different approach in defining the stop position
Conclusion: Which plugin should you choose?
All three tested plugins will do their job well and help you to create a nice sticky sidebar for your website. Each WP sticky sidebar plugin we tested has some own specific functionalities and behaviors. Therefore, instead of declaring the best among them, here are some short guidelines to help you choosing the right sticky sidebar plugin for your project:
- WP Sticky Sidebar: simplest sticky sidebar plugin, suited for non coders and less experienced developers
- Sticky Menu (or Anything!) on Scroll: very good sticky sidebar solution, can be nicely configured, not for very long sidebars
- Q2W3 Fixed Widget: a different approach in creating sticky sidebars, allows defining which widgets will stick and which ones will scroll away