The sidebar is the narrow vertical column on a website. It is usually placed on the right or left-hand side of a web page, though in some cases, a site will feature two sidebars, one on each side of the main content.
A sidebar shouldn’t be random clutter that you use to fill up space just because you think something “might work”. I have seen websites that are filled with STUFF and it winds up being super confusing, distracting, and hard to navigate. You really need to think it through.
One of the most important things on a website is the content, so a good amount of time and planning will go into that when setting up a new site. But planning what to include in your sidebar can actually be just as important.
So I would like to share some of the options that you might want to consider for your sidebar when planning your site design.
Items to include on a WordPress Website Sidebar:
- Owner Bio – All you have to do is add a short blurb from your About page with a photo and a link to “read more” that links to your About page. Super easy, but often has a big impact because people want to know who you are and what you are about.
- Testimonials – It has a huge impact for people to see what OTHERS are saying about you and your business. And if you are interested in learning about What Makes a Good Website Testimonial, be sure to read my recent article on the subject.
- Search box – Gives your visitors the ability to search your site for what they’re looking for. If they can easily find the information they need, they won’t go somewhere else to find it.
- Optin Box – Communicating with your visitors is a good way to keep your business in front of them. The best way to do this is to use a newsletter platform like Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact or others and have them optin to receive your emails. This is one of the most important things you can do for your business, so it really needs to be the first thing on your side bar below your search box. If you are interested in learning more about about How to Use an Optin to Grow Your Business List, be sure to read my recent article on the subject.
- Social Icons / Links – Adding your social icons and links to your social networks gives your visitors another way to connect with you. The more ways you provide to them, the better chance you’ll have of staying connected with them. These social icons can include Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Youtube, and RSS (just to name a few).
- Facebook Followers – Listing your Facebook followers will encourage others to request to follow you as well.
- Twitter Feed – Twitter is one of the most popular social networking sites online right now and it’s also one of the most valuable ones to use. When you post tips, articles, and other helpful information your visitors will see that and hopefully follow you so that they can see what else you can help them with.
- Recent Posts – Using a blog for your business is a great tool because it gives you the ability to post about your business and what you offer. It’s an easy way to advertise your business and share information that’s helpful to your market. When you post your recent posts on your sidebar they’ll be easy for your visitors to see and they’ll have even more help than before when it comes to discussing how you can help them.
- Video - A welcome video is a great way to create a “personal” connection with your visitors. Allow your visitors to have control over whether or not they want to watch the video, so don’t have the video on auto-start. When you create your video be sure to include what they can expect from your business and how you can help them.
- Contact Information – I always tell clients that if they don’t have much to include in the sidebar, then it is a good idea to include contact info or even a small form that allows for visitors to send a message to them right from their sidebar.
Additional Sidebar Items:
- List of Categories
- List of Comments
- Tag Cloud
- Ads and Promotions
- Events Calendar
- As Seen On Logos
- Image Slideshow
A website sidebar is valuable real estate. You may even want to consider having different sidebars on different pages if you find that things are getting too cluttered.
A sidebar is a space where you can share valuable information with your visitors. It is a place where they can learn more about who you are and why they should choose to purchase your product or service. It is a place where you can provide different means of communication through social media. It is a space where you can gather information that will help you to stay in contact with your visitors on an ongoing basis.
And like I said in the beginning of this article – you really have to think things through and figure out what to include and what NOT to include.
Your website is your storefront, especially when you work solely online. You may not have the ability to walk up and talk to someone when they visit, but do have the ability to bring clarity and keep a person coming back for more.