Focusing on the Sidebar

One of the most important aspects of blog usability is the sidebar. The sidebar is important because it contributes to your blog in two major ways – navigation and aesthetics. When choosing the type of sidebar to go with you have to make sure you always factor in both. Aesthetics – The sidebar should always complement your blog’s over all graphical design. You want the colors to blend in, the proportions to work, and the format such that it will enhance your blog’s overall look without taking the reader’s attention away from the most important thing – your posts. What this means is that your side bar should always take up a smaller space than your main column. This isn’t hard for blogs with single sidebars, but for blogs like Blog-tutorials that have a three-column format, sometimes the sidebar can end up taking too much space. If you notice though with Blog-tutorials the first left column (main column) is just slightly larger than the middle one yet due to the font size used for post titles you can immediately identify the left part as the main column. Furthermore the middle column doesn’t take away from the content since it contains featured content, which is of course, where you want your readers to go. Navigation – Your sidebar(s) exist for a reason – increased navigability. It isn’t there to just pretty up your blog. If it doesn’t help people navigate through your blog then you’re missing out on this benefit. What you see on the sidebar depends on what your focus is – what you want your readers to read. It can have a section for featured/ most popular posts, it can have a tag cloud, or it can have a search box (this can be put somewhere more prominent than the sidebar). It can contain all of the above. The important thing is that you give readers several options to accommodate different search styles. Oh and don’t forget to include “subscribe feeds” buttons to encourage readers to add your blog to their feeds.

Originally posted on February 18, 2010 @ 5:54 am