I was recently asked about sidebars on websites. Who needs a sidebar on their website and what needs to be included?
If you have a blog on your website and aspire to use the blog as a way to generate traffic for your website, then you probably need a sidebar. Why? If someone clicks on a link to your blog post the first page that they will see is your blog. If you don’t have information about you on the blog page your web visitors have to search to see what you are about.
A sidebar allows you to easily share about your company and introduce yourself to blog visitors. A sidebar also allows for some of your “go-to” content to be easily found for your reader. Here are a few ways to create a great sidebar.
Decide on your content BEFORE you hit the design editor. The first thing that I think about is, “What is the goal of the sidebar?” Think through the process of someone landing on your blog and what actions you want them to take next. I usually use the sidebar to introduce a business and their mission, I also use sidebars to establish the blog author as an expert.
A common combination of sidebar information would be:
Profile Image + Welcome Text + Social Media icons + any current promotions + contact info or link to contact page + Categories of posts that you are an expert in + Search + Popular Posts + final text (copyright info)
I’m going to break some of these down below.
01 / Feature your profile image
Let’s really talk about this one. This is potentially the FIRST image someone sees when they enter your site, and it becomes their first impression of you. I’m all about a well styled image, but make sure that this photo really represents the real you. Natural light is best to create a welcoming image. A professionally shot image that is bright (and shows your face) will ensure a strong connection with your reader. Decide what represents your business best and try to include an element of that into your picture.
02 / Introduce yourself
Your welcome text should be short and sweet, but use this as a place to introduce your company. Use this formula to build your welcome messaging: your business name + what your blog is about (what the reader can expect) + a fun fact about you.
03 / Use custom graphics
I like to use the sidebar as a place to continue to emphasize a brand through matching brand colors and fonts. A cohesive sidebar will greatly enhance the look of your website, and will keep this area from being distracting.