Is your sidebar sitting all alone with no one to talk to and no one to share with. Is your sidebar bulging at the seams from being stuffed with unnecessary junk. Is your sidebar confused about why it exists and what it’s for?
Here’s the problem I see over and over with websites that use a single sidebar web design: The website owners is usually trying to stuff it full of everything they think is “cool” or “might work” and as a result, they’re confusing things for everyone.
Planning the sidebars of your web design is just as important as planning your content, your sales funnel, and your irresistible free offer. The sidebar is an element that exists on almost every page of your website. That means it affects the experience the user have on your website. It also affects the way they move through your website, what they click on, and how long they stay.
In my post Promoting Your Social Media Profiles On Your Website Is A Bad Idea, I talked about the importance of having more than one sidebar available on your website. If you apply the theory that each page on your website should have a clear goal associated with it, you’ll be able to see that a single sidebar more then likely just isn’t cutting it.
In the single sidebar of a typical website, you may see (and yes, I have seen a website with all of these in a single sidebar):
- A search box
- Social media icons or links
- List of blog categories
- List of recent posts
- List of recent comments
- A testimonial
- Blog subscribe form and RSS link
- An upcoming event
- Ads and promotions
- Blog archives
- “As Seen On…” logos
- Website owner bio
- Product recommendations
- A blogroll
- Contact Information
- A Twitter widget or recent tweet
- A LinkedIn badge
- A Facebook widget, badge, or like button
- A video and a link to YouTube
- And more
These are often the sites that have a sidebar that scrolls down the page forever, while their content is just a few paragraphs. You know the one’s I’m talking about… the sites that have a HUGE gaping void of blank space.
- Do you really need all of that junk in your sidebar? Probably not.
- Do you really need to show your Facebook and Twitter conversations in your sidebar? Depends.
- Do date-based archives help your visitors at all? NO WAY!
Cramming too many things into your website sidebar causes your visitors to feel confused and overwhelmed, and your site to look amateurish and cluttered. Multiple sidebars allow you to display only the basic information the user needs.
For example: On your website money pages, limit what you include in the sidebar. Each link off your site and away from the page is an opportunity to lose a conversion or lose sale. Keep it simple. You don’t need all of your social networking and blog junk on your regular web pages.
Now depending on what your business is, where your website traffic comes from, who your clients are, what you offer, and how you make money, your approach may vary. But the one thing that is always the same no matter what is the need to put your visitors needs before your own and make the information your audience is looking for fast and easy to find.
What do you think? Do use multiple templates on your website to enable different sidebars? Do you think one sidebar is enough?