Hey! Today I’m continuing with the blog design series. This post is once again not tutorial base, but tips based. A LOT of the comments in the last post brought up sidebar(s) – keep them uncluttered! how do you keep them uncluttered? – so I thought I’d touch on that today and share some blog sidebar tips. Just like with the last post though, remember these are suggestions and if something just works better for your blog, stick to that.
Make sure that your sidebar is big enough to house everything you want in there but not so big it takes over your blog, after all you want the focus on your content not the sidebar! It’s always a little disconcerting when the sidebar(s) are so wide they’re competing for attention with the content. I know ad networks generally require a certain width – usually 300px – so I’d recommend sticking to that and no wider.
When you first meet someone, what’s the first thing you do? You introduce yourself (Hopefully, anyways!). That’s the function of the about section in your sidebar, your introduction to new readers. It could be as simple as a photo of you (a must!) linking to your about page or it could also include a short paragraph introduction, like what I have.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
After your readers are done reading your awesome content, what do you want them to do? Follow you so they come back for more, right? So make sure readers have a way to follow you! Don’t bury these little guys, put them towards the top and make them easy to find! Another thing to consider is social media feeds – things like Latest Tweets, Facebook Like Boxes, and Latest Instagrams and Pins. These can be great to encourage involvement however, they can clutter things up really fast so be selective about what you decide to include in your sidebar.
NEVER-ENDING CATEGORY LIST
A never-ending list of categories gets distracting and overwhelming, leading your readers to ignore it. Think of this as a quick overview about what you blog is all about and keep the list down to the top 5 or so categories.
ARCHIVES + SEARCH
On that note. A never-ending list of your archives will also be distracting and overwhelming, especially if you’ve been blogging for a long time. Display the archive as a drop down list instead and couple it with a search bar so readers can easily find what they need/want.
BLOG AWARDS + NETWORK BUTTONS
One word – clutter. They’re nice and they make you feel all warm and fuzzy but unless they were given to you by a big name company, you’re better off putting them in a separate page like your about page.
One of the key things to making sure your sidebar stays and looks organized is to have good sidebar headers. Make sure your sidebar is broken up into sections and each section is labeled. That way, when readers are looking for something they can easily find it.
Last, but definitely not least – make sure there’s an order to things in your sidebar. Group like things, give those groups different priorities – ask yourself ‘what do I want my readers to do next?’ and organize your sidebar in that order. Introductions and social media links should be towards the top, so should navigation links (archives, categories, etc).
When trying to organize and declutter your sidebar – be ruthless. Ask yourself, ‘what do I really need there?’ and then get rid of the rest! Remember graphics can seriously slow down your site so keep those to a minimum.
Do you have any blog sidebar tips you’d add to the list?