Today is day 9 of our 31 Days to a More Reader-Friendly Blog! Check out all of our posts here.
Oh ladies, are you still with us? We are transforming our blogs, one day at a time! And you aren’t alone. We aren’t sitting on our soap box telling you what to do and NOT doing it ourselves. If we haven’t already done a task, we are writing it because we are doing it now.
Isn’t it exciting? We are taking our blog from where it is, to where it needs to be: a more reader-friendly blog!
Today is exciting. It is all about blog sidebar design! Okay, mostly blog sidebar layout, but design is the overall result of a few tweaks!
3 steps to improve your blog sidebar design
Step 1: Remember this: Less is more. Can you say that with me?
With blog sidebar design, less is more! –>Tweet this!
Step 2: Make sure you have the basics covered (I will list them in the order of importance).
These four should be at the top of your sidebar. You pick the order based on what you deem most important, but make sure they are easy to find! If you are monetizing your site, you may need to push these down in order to place a paid ad on your site so it is above the fold. That is totally okay, but make sure you have these items somewhere near the top and easy to find!
:: A picture of yourself (or another picture that you like, if you aren’t comfortable with a picture of yourself). This picture introduces the reader to you and we click on it, it will take us right to your about page. See? Reader friendly!
:: Social Media Icons. If these aren’t in your header, make sure they are at the top of your sidebar so people can easily follow you. I know, there is a lot of talk about using custom icons right now. Leigh Ann and I are processing the news and will update y’all right after the 31 Days series is over, okay?
:: Email signup. This needs to be super simple for your readers to find.
:: Search bar. Your readers don’t memorize your site. Sad, right? So they need help. If they come back to find that epic post that they can’t wait to read again, they need to search for it! Put this in your header, menu bar, or at the top of your sidebar!
Step 3: Dapple in some of the extras for your sidebar.
These can be on your sidebar, wherever you like it for a pretty and easy to follow “flow.” You don’t need to do all of them!
:: A list of categories. We like to make these cute, custom blog category buttons, but the standard widget from your theme would work too! Not as eye catching, but still helps make your blog a more reader-friendly blog.
:: A 300×250, or 125×125 px ad square. This does not have to be for paid advertising. It can be for affiliate banners, series banners to promote (we try to always keep these up to date across our network). This is also a great place to share your favorite blogs (grab their button!). Make sure you keep these up to date. People will zone out and stop noticing what you have if you don’t switch it up!
:: Blog Features and/or Popular Posts. These are a great way to get people drawn into your site. To dig a bit deeper. It makes your site more sticky! You can select your theme’s widget for these OR you could take the time to make really cute pinnable, eye catching graphics! Make them small so they aren’t too busy, but big enough your reader can see them easily and want to click!
:: Your blog button! Make it grab-able. Yes, I think that is a word. If not? It is now.
Of course, there are more (or less) items for your sidebar, but we believe your blog sidebar design should be simple, tasteful and effective. By drawing your readers in (picture of you, series banners, popular posts banners), making it easy for them to follow you (social media icons, email subscribe box) and easy to find what they are looking for (search bar) they are likely to stick around and come back for more. Why? Because you have a more reader-friendly blog than the average blog! Yay for you!