Blog sidebar is one element of blog design that bloggers cannot ignore. However, blogger often face the few problems below with the sidebars on their blogs:
- Underutilized sidebars
- Flashy sidebars
- Never-ending sidebars
- Slow loading sidebars
- Sidebars in readers’ blind spot
Blog Sidebar Reconstruction Two Part Series
Ruchir touched on the downside of long articles with 7 Things I Hate About Blogging and it made me split this piece of blogging content into a two part article.
The first will be covering on step-by-step guide for a blog sidebar reconstruction and the next part (up next week) will be covering on blog improvement tips which you can use to enhance your sidebar and its usability on your blog.
If you have, seems to have or have doubts whether your sidebars have the few problems listed above, continue reading as this article and the upcoming one will present you with a packed guide and tips on how you can improve your blog by just tweaking the sidebars.
1. Setting the Aim of a Blog Sidebar
What is the aim of your sidebar? This is an important question that you will need to ask before you start the whole blog sidebar reconstruction process. Bloggers like Skellie want to have a clean sidebar and she only fills her sidebars with content-orientated elements.
Personal journal blogs might want to have a few mini flash game widgets on their sidebars so that their friends can spend some time playing them while visiting their blogs. A blog that aims solely for monetization purposes might only have ad panels on the sidebars.
2. Sidebar review
Your current sidebar is not to your liking and this is the reason why you are reading this. Looking back at the sidebar itself, which you normally won’t, will tell you the elements and parts of your sidebars that require your attention.
Some widgets might not even get the attention of your blog readers and some ad panels is just not getting click-throughs that earn you money. Removing them is the only way to unclutter your sidebar. Be stern about this as keeping these elements will only waste the space and extend the loading time of your blog’s sidebar.
Photo by: orangeacid
Traffic building widgets such as Entrecard can be an essential for blogs that wanted to boost their traffic and build up an interacting platform with their readers. A blogger which is constantly receiving advertising requests but with no ad space to offer should be thinking about opening up some ad space on the sidebars.
Determine what elements in your sidebars should be above the fold and what elements should fall right down to your blog footer. You will also need to determine which elements of your sidebars that you wish to make them stand out more so that readers will pay attention to them.
All of the above require a fall back onto the aim of your sidebars because you will never know what you want and everything will seems to be important for you if you did not set an aim for your sidebars.
3. Sidebar Optimization
Further optimization on your blog sidebars helps to improve them even more. Sidebars in your blog require more than putting and arranging the elements in it.
Length and space
After putting in all the elements which you think are must-haves for your blog, look at the length of your sidebar. The rule of thumb is to have sidebars that are shorter than your main contents section. You might on the opposite side where your sidebars are not even filling up the top fold of your blog.
Cutting down the amount of sidebars on your blog or going back to step one for the purpose of removing and adding elements will solve this problem.
Sense of design
Ponder for yourself whether you want an element of your blog to stand out more or just to blend together with your blog design as the use of colors will be different. Using colors like white and black for your blog’s background opens up widgets’ design compatibility widely for your sidebars.
You will need a little sense of design when adding widgets or banners into the blog sidebars. Matching colors or the usage of borders will either make an element stand out more or blend into your blog design. Elements which is not matching will kill the design almost instantly even though you might have a nice one.
Sidebar load speed
First, weed the elements of your blog that is causing the slow load time using Web Page Analyzer.
What if you want to keep it? You can do so but boosting site load time can be an issue unless you perform other site load time optimization actions such as reducing the number of images used in blog posts.
4. Sidebar Performance Tracking
Every time we perform something for our blogs, such as reconstructing the blog footer, we need to perform some basic performance tracking. If the rectifying actions we have taken fail to achieve what we wanted to achieve, we might need to redo the whole process all over again.
Make sure that all your elements of your sidebars are accessible, free of bugs (invalid codes, broken images and broken links) and of course, does not cause design impairment to your blog.
This test is to determine whether your blog sidebar matches your blog design and is user-friendly for your blog readers. What do you feel about your blog sidebars at the first glance? If anything seems to be wrong somewhere, there must be something that is incompatible, design-wise.
Crazy Egg is a great tracking software for bloggers to monitor which part of a blog that visitors often click when they visit your blog. This piece of information will tell you about the usability of your blog sidebars and whether blog readers are ignoring them completely.
Review by others
Sometimes, subjective tests such as for design compatibility work best when views and opinions from different angles are being collected. Hop over to relevant platforms for your blogging questions and ask for a review on your newly reconstructed blog sidebars and I am sure that you will be flooded with constructive criticisms and recommendations on what you can do to turn your blog sidebars better.
Sidebar Problems, Anyone?
What do you think is the most important element that you would like to see on blog sidebars? Are your sidebars currently performing what you want them to do? I doubt most of us ever pay attention to our blog sidebars. Why not take some time, right now, to take a look at it?
Remember to subscribe to Wayne Liew Dot Com RSS Feed if you want further tips on how you can enhance your blog’s sidebars with the Part 2 of this article which will be coming up next week.