What Is a Blog Sidebar?

Learn Why Blog Sidebar Design Is So Important

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A blog sidebar is a section of your blog's layout. Typically, blog layouts include one or two sidebars but sometimes three or even four sidebars might be used. Sidebars are narrow columns and can appear to the left, right, or flanking the widest column in the blog layout, which is where the blog post (or blog page) content appears.

How Are Blog Sidebars Used?

Blog sidebars are used for several purposes.

First, sidebars are a great place to put important information that you want visitors to have quick access to. Depending on the blogging application and theme or template you use for your blog layout, you can customize your blog sidebars to display the same information on every page and post or different information based on different page and post layouts.

The top of a sidebar (particularly the part that can be seen on the top of a visitor's screen without scrolling, which is referred to as being above the fold) is important real estate. Therefore, this is a good place to put critical information. It's also a good place to sell ad space if you're trying to make money from your blog because space above the fold is more coveted than space below the fold simply because more people will see it. The further a visitor has to scroll down a page, the less content published there will be seen simply because people don't like to scroll.

Therefore, less important information should be placed further down on your sidebar.

What Should You Put in Your Blog Sidebar Design?

Your blog sidebar design can include anything you want, but always try to put your visitors' wants and needs before your own to create the best user experience. If your blog's sidebar is filled with dozens and dozens of irrelevant ads and nothing else, visitors will either ignore it or be so annoyed by it that they won't return to your blog ever again.

Your sidebar should enhance the user experience on your blog, not hurt it.

Use your sidebar to give your best content a longer shelf life by offering feeds to your most popular posts or posts that have received the most comments. If you use a blogging application like WordPress, this is easy to do using widgets built into themes and plugins. Be sure to offer access to your blog's archives in your sidebar, too. People who are familiar with reading blogs will look for links to your older content by category and date in your sidebar.

One of the most common things that bloggers publish in their sidebars is an invitation to subscribe to the blog's RSS feed via email or their preferred feed reader. Your sidebar is also the perfect place to invite people to connect with you across the social Web. Provide links to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. In other words, your blog's sidebar is a great way to promote your content in a variety of ways and boost your online audience.

Of course, as mentioned above, your sidebar is also a good place for advertising. Display ads, text link ads, and video ads can all be shown in your blog's sidebar. Remember, you can include your own videos in your sidebar, too.

If you have a YouTube channel where you publish video blog content, display your most recent video in your blog's sidebar with a link to view more videos from your YouTube channel. You can do the same thing with your audio content if you publish a podcast or online talk show.

Bottom-line, it's your sidebar, so don't be afraid to get creative with how you use it. While there are certain features that your audience will expect to find in your sidebar, you can always test new elements, experiment with placement and formatting, and so on until you find the right content mix and layout for appeasing your audience and meeting your goals.

For more sidebar design ideas, read about 15 popular sidebar items.