Let’s face it, when you first visit a blog you want to see a nice design that is easy to navigate and has an overall clean and crisp feel, right? A lot goes into building the perfect layout for your blog that suits your personality and echoes your brand. Your header image, tagline, and even your pages can be pretty straight forward when designing your layout, but then there’s the sidebar.
Your sidebar is the entry way to your awesome space on the internet. It’s important to have it welcoming and tidy, not overwhelming and cluttered.
While your sidebar is something only you can craft to reflect your brand and voice, I have some considerable tips on what you should and shouldn’t include in your sidebar.Here's a list of what your side bar should AND should not include! Click To Tweet
WHAT YOU SHOULD INCLUDE:
Photo Of Yourself & Short Description // Your readers (and potential) readers want to know who you are and what you’re all about. When someone is able to easily identify who runs your blog, they’re more apt to find a personal connection right away, and stay. When you don’t have a photo of yourself and you don’t include your name in your short description, it’s easily off-putting for the simple fact that people are looking for connection. Open up and let them know who you are.
Social Media Links // Once a reader connects with your content, they’re automatically going to look for your social sites so they can follow along with you there. I can’t tell you how many times I have searched all over a blog’s site for someone’s social media links, and they were no where to be found. Have your social media links easy to find.
Search Bar And/Or Archives // A search bar is something that most bloggers forget to include in their sidebar, but it’s actually one of the most important things you should have in your sidebar. When someone comes looking for a specific post, they can type in a keyword and it’ll come up. This is huge! Now whether you decide to include an archive list is up to you, but please make sure it’s a drop-down menu. Archive lists that are never-ending can end up looking extremely cluttered.
Categories List // Having a categories list is just as important as having a search bar. If someone is more interested in one category over the others, it’s a perk to be able to find that one category so easily.
Popular Posts // You need to have a popular posts section somewhere that’s easily seen on your blog. I used to have mine as a page, but I found that by adding them to my sidebar makes them more apt to be visited.
Social Media Widgets // Social media widgets can be a really good thing for your sidebar, but you can’t add every social media widget in your sidebar. When you add all of your social media feeds into your sidebar, it gets overwhelming and makes your sidebar extremely long. I recommend to choose just one or two widgets, which are usually Pinterest and Instagram since they’re the most visual.
Email Sign-Up Form // Whether you have a newsletter sign-up or an option for readers to receive an email whenever you publish a new post, it’s an important to have this form somewhere in your sidebar. Your sidebar is a great place to pick up some more dedicated readers for your newsletter or email list.
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T INCLUDE:
Blog Award Buttons // Just going to be straight forward here, no one cares about any blog rewards that you’ve been nominated for. Sure, it’s cool to post about them when you first start out, but please don’t put them in your sidebar. This is naturally something you’ll learn not to do as you grow.
Too Many Ads // Ads can be awesome, whether they’re affiliate ads or your sponsors. But if you have more than a couple affiliate ads in your sidebar, your blog can begin to look like spam. Basically, just keep it clean. *Side note: make sure you’re disclosing any ads or affiliate links properly.
List Of Blogs You Read // Having a list of blogs you read and love in your sidebar is just not the appropriate place for something like that. It clutters up your sidebar. If you really want to share some of your favorite blogs with your readers, perhaps you can write a post about them all instead.
What are some actionable tips you have for keeping a clean sidebar? What is your must-have that you will always need there? What’s something that definitely should not be there? I’d love to hear! Let’s chat!