Sidebars are an essential tool for any site. They contain pieces of useful information and links that help visitors navigate the website easier. Sidebars can also serve as self-promotion. They can show your visitors what you and your site have to offer. If they like what they see, then they will keep coming back. This is why it is vital to consider what you place here carefully.
A well-crafted sidebar will keep your visitors coming back, and that is the goal. Proper planning and good web design can help you achieve this. However, adding an excessive amount of content to your sidebar can be detrimental. You risk your visitors being overwhelmed with information. So, what are some good things to have on your sidebar?
Essential things to have on your sidebar
There are some things that you absolutely need to have on your sidebar. Take note that just because these are essential does not mean that you can just add them mindlessly. Proper web design is still important, avoid cluttering your sidebar. Always remember that excessive clutter is the enemy of blog posts. Here are some essential things to have on your sidebar.
· Most recent posts or top posts
Adding a link or a box to view recent or top posts can be useful. This gives your visitors an idea of what to expect from your site. It also gives them a quick look at what’s new. Should you add both the recent posts and top posts? It’s entirely up to you. Just take note that you want to minimise clutter in your site. If you’re going to add both, then make it a short preview.
· About you
This is one of the most important parts that all sidebars need to have. Sidebars serve the important function of self-promotion. What better way to do this than by adding a short piece of information about yourself? There are many things you can add about you. A short description of yourself, a profile photo, and a brief description of your site can help.
· Links to your other profiles and blogs
This is another piece of self-promotion, but a totally acceptable one. Make sure that you add links to your other blogs or social media profiles. It will be even better if you just add small icons that link to your accounts.
· A share button
Having a share button is useful for helping get more viewers and followers. This ensures that if your visitors like you, it will be easy for them to tell everyone. Just make sure that you’re not pushy with getting your visitors to share your content. It will just sound annoying.
· Contact information
It is surprising how many bloggers forget to share their contact information on their sidebars. If you want a quick way for people to reach you, don’t forget this. It’s also an easy way for potential collaborators or advertisers to get in touch with you. This can mean revenue.
· RSS subscription button or newsletter signup links
This adds an easy way for your visitors to become followers. They click this button, and they get notified if something interesting is going on in your site. Ask someone knowledgeable in web design to learn how to do this.
· Search bar
This is an easy way for visitors to get around your site. It also helps them search for specific content easily.
· Good to have in moderation
The above are the essentials, but there are some additional things that are not needed but are useful to have to some degree. Try to add some of these but make them discreet and don’t let them take too much space. Having these items in excess can make your site seem too cluttered. The worst case would make you look like you are a bit too concerned with clicks or money. Here are some items that are good to have in moderation.
Having ads on your site is an ideal way of creating revenue. However, having them on the sidebar may be off-putting for some viewers. Unless you’re getting paid quite a huge sum for these on your sidebar, it’s best to limit their number.
· Donation button
Having a discreet donation button on your sidebar can help, but is not really necessary. There is nothing wrong with trying, though. As long as it is noticeable without being cluttered and annoying, then feel free to add one.
· Recent comments box
Not everyone is fond of reading comments on blog posts. Having a ‘recent comments’ box, however, can help spark some conversations. This can increase the traffic to your site. Just make sure that the comments box does not turn into a flame war field. This can be off-putting for some. Proper web design can solve this.
Placing a small area where people praise you is always nice. It helps new viewers see what you are capable of, and may increase the chances of them returning to your site.
Try to avoid putting these
The above are some items that you can put in your sidebar if you really want to. As much as possible, however, try to avoid putting this list on your sidebar.
Date-based archives are just too cluttering to place on the sidebar. Try to put these somewhere else on your site.
· Links to other sites
This is pretty much a no-brainer. Any link that leads away from your website can take visitors away and potentially decrease revenue.
· Large ads
Large ads run the risk of making your sidebar too cluttered. Limit your ads to a certain size and steer clear of the excessively big ones.
· Inappropriate ads for your target audience
While ads generate revenue, it is crucial to know when to say no. If your potential sponsor is inappropriate or unsuitable for your target audience, then say no.
· Anything cluttering
As we have said earlier, clutter is the sidebar’s enemy. Anything too cluttering should be avoided at all costs.
Contact Jezweb for all your website needs
Jezweb specialises in Hunter Valley and Newcastle web design, and we will make sure that your sidebar is up to par. The websites we create are optimised and will help your site come out on top. Contact us at 02 4951 5267 or drop as an email for enquiries.