Here We Go: Sidebar

Today we’re discussing the sidebar! Exciting, huh? When I first started blogging I didn’t really give a lot of attention to my sidebar. You can see it here. Ugly ugly ugly! I’m going to list a few key components that I think you should consider when constructing your sidebar:

It’s really important to keep all of your important information at the top of your sidebar. What’s important? Well it’s obviously up to you. I would definitely suggest keeping a small photo to “introduce yourself” to new readers that links to your ABOUT page. It’s also important to make it easy to connect or subscribe (whether that’s RSS, links to social media, or something like Google Friend Connect). In a nutshell: introduce yourself and make it easy for people to stay in touch.

I think this was one of my biggest mistakes when I first started blogging. Most of my links were literally links. You can really spruce up your sidebar by creating buttons and graphics that allow your readers to dig deeper into your blog. It’s also important to keep one single width. On my blog I make sure that every button is 200 px wide. Since your sidebar (whether it’s on the left or the right) essentially frames your blog, it really keeps it clean.

There are many opportunities to share lists on your sidebar. It could be your blogroll, categories or tags. I would suggest keeping it short or using a drop down menu when possible. Heck, go crazy in your blog posts but I definitely wouldn’t overwhelm your readers with a lot of text. Oh…and make sure your links open in new tabs. Why would you want to point them away from your lovely space?

Sometimes I get so frustrated when I return to a favorite blog (or find a new one) and can’t search for content. Perhaps I read about your great pesto recipe but forgot to bookmark it. I should be able to go back to your blog and use your search bar to find your delicious recipe! Make it easy and if you use Google search, make sure it’s searching ONLY your blog’s content and not the entire internet.

I also found another easy post about adding images to your sidebar and sizing/aligning them correctly with HTML. I hope those four tips help. Obviously there are many other great things that you can add to your sidebar and I’d love to hear what works for you! What do you include on your sidebar? What bugs you about other blogs’ sidebars? Let’s aim to improve!


June 20, 2012