13 July 2014

13 Blog Sidebar Tips

A blog side bar is a column or so on either side of the main content on a blog, which appears on every blog page. In the sidebar is where you put all the things you want viewers to always be able to see when they go on your blog. Sidebars can be really important for introducing what your blog is about and pointing readers to where you want them to go.

In my sidebar I have a little section at the top as introduction, about me and the blog, so that straight away people know who I am. Then I have the links to all my social media sites, which means people can easily follow me.

I have a list of topics (categories) next, to make it easy for readers to find exactly which posts they are after and gives an overview of the types of posts that I write. And last but not least, I have a search bar. I think this is essential because it means people can easily search through your content and find what they are looking for.

Now a few suggestions and do's and don't's:

The Do's

DO... utilize categories, tags or topics. Readers can then choose which content they want to see and this gives an overview or summary of your content.

DO... be minimal, only have the essential things in your sidebar that people need to see, put everything else on a separate page or remove it completely.

DO... incorporate your brand in the design of your sidebar, so that it fits with the rest of the blog. This also makes it look more professional and adds something to the overall picture, look and feel of your blog. If you haven't already got a brand for your blog, you can check out my blog brand resources postbrand focus post with worksheets and another about applying your brand.

DO... some blogs have disclaimers, blog courtesy messages or copyright print. This can be put at the bottom of the sidebar and always looks good in a box or separated so it looks separate from the rest of the sidebar but is still in tune.

DO... prioritize the widgets in your sidebar, so that you have the most important / useful thing that you want viewers to see first, at the top and then the next important below that and so on.

DO... e-mail subscription buttons and social media links are also important for the sidebar, to make to obvious which sites you use and points you directly to them, so in a few clicks the viewer can easily follow you.

DO... I would highly advise a search bar, simply to make your site easier to navigate and use. A good tutorial for creating a search bar I found here and think they look gorgeous and you can easily customize them so they fit your blog brand.

The Suggestions

SUGGESTION... have a picture of you. This adds a personal touch to your blog so people can see who you are and an about section or introduction near the top of the sidebar so people can learn about you and the blog right from the start.

SUGGESTION... any ads or sponsors can go in the sidebar too, but in my opinion these look a lot better and more professional if they are all the same width and are very minimal, in terms of design and colour, sot that they don't look messy or distract from your own blog content. ( Cocorrina, Blog Milk Blog, Holly Marie Designs )

SUGGESTION... blogrolls are sometimes put in sidebars, although these work best when the list is shorter or it is placed as a drop down menu so that it doesn't fill up too much space and looks neat.

SUGGESTION... putting a shortlist of popular posts in the sidebar can be a good idea so that new readers see what others readers like most on your blog and its another snapshot of your type of content.

SUGGESTION... buttons or lists of pages and important places to go in your blog are in the sidebar so that they can be easily noticed and they point out what readers should do or where they should go.

A Don't

DON'T... I discourage blogs from using more than one sidebar, as this makes the blog look more cluttered and messy, unless it is made to look very minimalistic and professional. Admittedly sometimes it can work (Blog Milk Blog) , but I think it is altogether easier if there is only one sidebar just in case it doesn't work.

What do you think is important for your blog sidebar?