Once you understand your overall website strategy and approach, the next step, while developing your content and design, is to think about your website sidebar. You don’t want to just load up your sidebar with badges, widgets, and gizmos just because it’s cool, because someone else uses it, because it might work, or because you can.
Like your content, your sidebar needs a strategic plan!
Planning the sidebars of your website is just as important as planning your content, your sales funnel, and your irresistible free offer. Your sidebar exists on almost every page of your website. That means it affects your visitors’ experience on your site. It also affects the way visitors move through your site, what they click on, and how long they stay.
Here are some important things to think about when planning your sidebar:
- Your opt-in typically will be the first item in the sidebar area of your site, making it easy for you to edit and update.
- Sidebar elements should be used to help visitors access information quickly, improve your visitors’ experience on your site, and increase conversions of visitors to clients and customers.
- Every third party badge, widget, and link you add to your sidebar (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Affiliate products etc.) is an opportunity for visitors to leave your website, get distracted, and forget about you.
- You don’t have to have the same sidebar elements on every page. You can show different elements on different pages to aid in the conversion goal for each specific page.
Just remember, that cramming too many items into your website sidebar will more than likely cause your visitors to feel confused and overwhelmed, and your site to look amateurish and cluttered. Instead of putting everything you can into your sidebar, think about what is appropriate for each page.
Here are some examples:
- Your “As seen on” logos may only appear in the sidebar on your About, Media, Speaking, and Testimonial pages
- Your list of past speaking engagements only appears in the sidebar on your speaking page
- A YouTube Video testimonial or product-specific only appears in the sidebar on the page for that product
- Your list of blog categories only appear in the sidebar on the blog pages, while the top five most recent posts appear on all other pages
In some cases you may not want to use a sidebar at all! On some pages, specifically on the pages where you are asking for a specific conversion (i.e. product pages, teleclass signups, etc.), you may want to eliminate the sidebar to reduce distractions and keep the visitor focused on taking the desired action.
When it comes to your website sidebar, just remember to keep it simple
Before adding any element to your sidebar as yourself these three questions:
- Will it help my visitors find what they need faster?
- Will it add value to and enhance my visitors’ experience on my site?
- Will it aid in increasing my desired conversions on the site?