If you were to look at almost any blog on the internet, you would quickly realise that the vast majority of them include a sidebar. This sidebar often displays links to all sorts of other information that we think our readers will find useful, but doesn’t it detract from the post a little bit? In more modern blog designs, we are actually seeing sidebars being retired and these links included in the website in other less distracting and more engaging ways.
Whilst this isn’t a concern for all blogs, for some advertising is vital from a monetization standpoint. If you do need to include advertising on your website, there are other places to include it besides in a sidebar. Try placing your adverts between blog posts on the home page, beneath the title of your post, or at the bottom of each post. They will still be visible with natural progression but not distracting.
You have probably found that most of the sidebar is taken up by various archives (specifically by date, category and tags). There are actually two ways that you can include an archive without it being so obtrusive. Why not create an archive page that you can link to in your main navigation? Or present metadata within each blog post where a visitor would find it most useful (link the author’s name, list the category, etc).
- Featured Posts
Whilst presenting visitors with featured or other related blog posts is a great way of keeping them engaged on your website for longer, pitching these posts whilst they are already trying to read one sends a bit of a mixed message. Why not present related blogs at the bottom of the post, where a visitor will come to it in natural progression? Or showcase featured posts (like the most popular ones) in the footer?
- Search Box
A search box is usually one of the first items included in a sidebar, which visitors appreciate because it gives them the ability to search for the content they are looking for. Why not take the search box out of the sidebar, however, and include it in your website’s header or main navigation? In many ways, this is actually more front and centre than having the box pushed off to the side.
- Subscribe Buttons
We feel as if we should point out that these call to actions (getting visitors to subscribe to your content) are far to important to be lost somewhere in your sidebar. Instead, try placing these buttons in two different places on the blog – one in the header (where visitors will see it immediately) and one at the end of each post (where visitors can click if they have enjoyed reading). This will actually serve your blog much better.
There is, of course, one final option and that is to completely remove all of these informational links from your blog (known as a minimal design). Experience has shown us, however, that this is not always possible or practical – many visitors will want and expect to find links to this sort of information somewhere in your blog posts. When designing your modern blog, remember that anything included in a sidebar is detracting from your content – does it really need to be there?