What should I put in my sidebar?

questionThe WordPress sidebar is made of widgets that you can add or edit in the Appearance section of your Dashboard … and the number of sidebar plug-ins available is limitless. It is easy to get carried away with the ease and flexibility but there are a few items that should be included in your sidebar that will provide information to your readers without overwhelming them.

  1. The “About Me” Bio. This is probably the first thing your sidebar should contain because it identifies why you are blogging and gives the reader just enough information about you gain their interest.
  2. Social Media Follow Buttons. The primary goal of the social media icons  is to drive traffic to your blog and website. Some people debate their effectiveness but if done properly social media buttons work with your website to maximize your online exposure.
  3. Newsletter Signup. If you offer a newsletter and want to collect email addresses then the sidebar is the perfect place to let your readers know and offer a signup space.
  4. Testimonials. This is mainly for businesses – but it is a very effective way to promote your business and show potential clients how wonderful your current clients think you are.
  5. Search. People expect to be able to search so consider it a necessity for your blog or website.
  6. Recommended or Featured Posts. These should be posts that will echo the benefit that your blog and site content has to the reader. This is a good way to make a great first impression.
  7. Categories and/or Archives. This is a helpful feature to new visitors – but be sure to keep it neat and easy to use.

The goal is to have people read your site content without the sidebar taking away from their experience with distractions. Another thing to keep in mind that the side bar shouldn’t be too long and shouldn’t be the a catch-all for all the items and content you couldn’t find space for elsewhere. Widgets like Tag Clouds and Blogrolls are fun, but don’t really do much other than take up valuable space. Less is more in the world of widgets –  keep your readers in mind and everyone will be happy.

Does your sidebar need help or does your website or blog need updating or a refresh? Contact Sumy Designs for a free estimate.

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Susan Sullivan

Graphic Design. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area with my husband and children. I am an avid distance runner, environmentalist, part-time beekeeper, chicken farmer and amateur photographer.

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