As we all know, WordPress is one of the most powerful CMS systems that are easy to use. Over 28.4% of all websites use WordPress, and market share for WordPress is 59.3% as of August 1, 2017. So we thought it would be good to talk about sidebars, and how to make the best usage of them and provide the most value.
Unraveling the Absolute Sidebar Essentials
Sidebars often get treated like a junk drawer or the guest room closet – full of forgotten nothings, so we are give you some pointers on how to design your sidebar. Cut your sidebar down to the most essential items to ensure your site is welcoming, easy-to-understand, and professional.
It can be tempting to cram as much as possible into the sidebar from new services, featured products, testimonials, giveaways, coupons, paid advertising, membership badges, and opt-ins. But, if you are not able to organize this limited space, you could be faced with a wasteland that detracts attention from your site and makes you look downright unprofessional or spammy.
4 Tips to Improving Your Sidebar
So let’s get down to designing your WordPress Sidebar with these 4 important tips:
Draft a list of your must-have elements in order of priority. Priority often comes down to your end-goal and the type of site you have.
For example, if your site is meant to showcase your portfolio of work (ie:// your photography) your upcoming events and your photo blog subscription may be a lot more important than membership badges for every blog your are a member of. But, if your site sells t-shirts, your shopping cart would be most important. In the case of service-based sites your opt-in may be the most important, so you can begin to build a relationship with prospective clients. It all depends on your site goals.
2. Trash the unnecessary.
If a particular item doesn’t add any further value for your audience, then trash it! Some blogging communities or networks regard membership badges with a high level of importance. But, if you can’t succinctly define the value or the reason behind displaying a badge, then why let it clutter your sidebar?
The same goes for the WordPress “meta” section. The “meta” section is that generic bit that appeared in the sidebar including links to: Log In, Entries RSS, Comments RSS, and WordPress.org. When these are left to fester awkwardly, it just looks like you really just had no idea what you were supposed to do with these, so you just decided to leave them be. Please trash them. If you really feel you need the Entries RSS link, you’d be better served to design your own.
3. Keep it above the fold.
Once you have a definite priority, implement that into your design. This may seem obvious, but keep your most important items at the top of your sidebar. Take it one step more and ensure these absolute essentials remain “above the fold”.
Keeping it above the fold is a term inherited from print media, especially newspapers. Newspapers strategically design their media so that the top stories always fall above the crease once you fold the paper over. Although there isn’t a literal “fold” in online media, the “fold” is generally attributed to the bottom most area of the screen that is visible before scrolling. Any area of the screen that is not visible before scrolling is below the fold.
4. Promote yourself first.
Use your sidebar to further your site before others. As charitable and well-meaning as it might sound to provide a lengthy list of recommended blogs, you aren’t doing any service to your own site. This is actually a distraction and several opportunities for your visitors to redirect when the goal is to keep them focused on your site.
Your sidebar is an important design element on your site that can either help to further your site or hinder it. Remember your sidebar usually shows up on every page, so your design elements are crucial. Just like any customer – facing piece of marketing, make sure you are deliberate in your design choices. When it comes to sidebars, clutter is never a good look.
Sidebars can be put to use in so many different ways. If you need assistance setting up or designing your Sidebar, just jump over to our contact page and we’ll get right back to you.