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Friday, December 9, 2011

Sidebars

I was originally planning to write about sidebars sometime after Monday when I begin my site redesign in earnest. But I was talking to a dear blogger friend of mine earlier this week about sidebars and now I just can't put it off any longer!

There are several different types of sidebars I thought I'd mention in this post, so here we go.

No sidebar.
Didn't think it was possible? Oh yes it is.

Most notably Ashley Sisk has been sidebar free for pretty much as long as I can remember - which in my current state of sleep deprivation could have been last week but I'm pretty sure it's been longer than that. I have a huge design crush on this style layout. It keeps content front and center without any distractions.

The down side to having no sidebar though is that there are certain things people tend to look for in the sidebar - a grab badge, though I've noticed a trend towards shifting those to a separate page. Readers typically look for subscription and social media links in a sidebar. Ashley has her GFC (which I'll be blogging about in the VERY near future) in her footer at the moment which is a popular alternative.

Since my blog is, at least at the moment, the only site for my photography eclasses, and therefore puts it more on the side of a business blog than a hobby blog, I don't know that going sidebar-less is the right thing for me to do. I want it to be super quick and easy for my readers to subscribe to my blog, follow me and register for my classes without scrolling to the footer. However, if I ever decide to shift styles towards an art blog removing the sidebar is the first thing I'd do.

Two sidebars
What do you think about this style? I'm still on the fence about it. Does it work best for fashion and style blogs? I don't know. It's a really busy layout. You can see Casey Weigand rocking two sidebars on her blog.

The down side to having two sidebars is that it does detract from your content and makes for a super busy page design. But you can cram a lot of content into that space.

Right or Left?
Most blogs have their main sidebar content on the right side of the page. My opinion on the matter is that it's not earth-shatteringly important. If you're looking to communicate innovation maybe a sidebar on the left would be a hip way to communicate that.

My sidebar pet peves 
If pet-peve posts annoy you - I get that ;)  Skip this part.

A pseudo sidebar
To be honest these drive me a little nuts. I've seen them lots of places, so maybe I'm in the minority on this one. The first blog that comes to mind is Madeline Bea. It's one way to have a sidebar without really having a sidebar. It keeps the design super-sleek, I'll give you that, but I am not a fan.

The sidebar with scrolling buttons.
This is another design pet peeve of mine , and I'm sorry if that annoys you. If you worked your sweet little fingers to the bone trying to get that code right, well than good for you but it annoys me to no end. If you don't want a long list of buttons on your sidebar maybe you should have a text list instead, or maybe a separate page on your blog.

The sidebar that hangs off the edge of my screen.
This is something I've noticed becoming increasingly common and it really bothers me, especially if they offer paid spots on their blog. I don't want to pay for an ad and only have half of it display properly. This is an instance I think, when more is less.

The unformatted sidebar.
If this is you please, for the love of all things beautiful in the world, fix it! If you don't know how I've written a couple tutorials on the basic HTML code you need to know to format grab badges appropriately. I'm sure you could barter or ask a more design savvy friend for some help. Nothing screams "I don't take my blog seriously" louder than an unformatted collection of buttons.

I know a lot of this is on the negative side, I'm sorry about that. Also don't forget - this is just my personal opinion. You should always design your blogs layout to make YOU happy first.

So what do you think I should add or take away from my sidebar?
I am thinking I'll delete most of my affiliate links in my re-design. They take a good bit of time to maintain - time I could be using to build my blog and connect with my readers. I am registered with LinkShare and ShareASale but I've only made about forty bucks from affiliate links in the entire time I've had this blog and of more than half of that has come since I broke 700 followers. I read that affiliate links aren't  really worth the time it takes to maintain them until after you've reached 1K followers and I'm thinking maybe there's something to that.


I am also thinking I may delete my blog frog widget as well. Do you use it?

My SM links will be re-done as icons instead of the text links I have now. I'll have an easier feedburner registration area and I'll have an email opt-in that I'll blast out whenever registration opens for classes.

I've been thinking I should add photos of each of my kids I haven't added them yet because even though I blog about my kids I don't consider my blog to be a mommy blog. - what do you think?

3 comments:

Branson said...

My personal preference is one sidebar. I was always told having it on the right is because you want your actual content to be the main focus, and the top left is where people read first. However, I have had a left sidebar in the past. I don't think it is a big deal. I say in our community blog frog is not real big, and you can always make a page on your blog for your community. I would also shrink your archives to a drop down. My fav feature is a popular posts widget... Gives me an idea of what to look at if I want to see more :) There is my long winded answer for you, lol.

Kimberly said...

My personal opinion is that the less busy the blog, the better. I realize people have sponsors and advertisers but all that is just clutter to me. I switched my blog to having no sidebars and I love it. I think we get so bombarded with ads all the time (and everywhere!) that when I read someone's blog, I want to do just that ... read their blog. Not see all the gadgets they have all over the place.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Looking forward to seeing your redesign!

BARBIE said...

I am getting ready to clean up my sidebars and have a little "redesign" done myself. And I agree, although I love my affiliates, I just don't make any money from them. So away they go (at least for now). I cannot imagine not having a sidebar at all. I see that a lot on photo blogs. Can't wait to see what you come up with.