5 Ways to have a successful blog without a Sidebar
The Blog Sidebar is a very classic approach to blog design, but experts predict that the future of Blog User Experience (UX) Design is to not have a sidebar at all. The Sidebar is a piece of virtual real estate; a strip of visual information either to the right of the left of the article content, displaying ads and related widgets. As Blogging has become more and more popular and more people want to make money from their blogs, the Sidebar has become a dumping ground of ads and click bait for the owner to make a little extra cash.
What about the actual blog readers though? Readers hate it when blogs have too many ads, it is an ever growing feeling that ads and unnecessary visual information is detrimental instead of being of having any positive effect.
Will the sidebar get the readers to stay longer on the site, or bring in more signups to the email list? Maybe. But what the sidebar is doing is also distracting readers from the valuable content in the center of the page, where they should be putting all their attention.
As we know, blogs need CTA’s (calls to action) to be successful. Readers need to click through to other places on the site to make purchases, sign up to newsletters, get freebies. All these things have been placed in the sidebar for way too long, it’s time to get rid of the sidebar without getting rid of the CTA’s.
What is usually included in a Sidebar?
- An Author Bio
- Social Media Follow Buttons
- A Search Bar
- Popular Posts
- Sign up Forms
- Category clouds
- Badges and Buttons
- Ads, Ads and more Ads.
Here are five ways to include the same information you would have on the sidebar, in other areas of your blog.
1. The Author Bio can be a small widget under the title or a larger one at the bottom.
It is easy to insert a little widget or line under the title that includes your name and a small photo. You can make your name and photo clickable so that your readers can click through to find out more about you. Alternatively or as a plus, you can add a bigger Author Widget at the end of the article with more information and all your social media buttons. If your blog hosts guest authors you just have to switch your informatio for theirs.
2. The related / popular articles can be included in the footer of the article or in between paragraphs in a non-invasive manner
A very common sidebar widget is the “popular” articles list or category cloud / list. This content can be displayed differently inside the article and also in a footer widget. Related posts can be added as text links in paragraph breaks as a different color so that it is perceived visually but not invasively inside the main content.
Another great option is a related articles footer from any reputed SEO plugin that will show the reader a small index of posts with their respective images and a blurb to navigate further into the blog.
3. The Search Bar and social media follow buttons can be in the header or above it.
The Search bar and the Social Media Follow buttons don’t need to be in the sidebar, but they sure need to be somewhere! Depending on your theme or SEO plugin, your Social Media Follow buttons can be placed at the top right of your site in a floating position, meaning that when readers scroll your content the buttons stay put. That is much better than a sidebar in my opinion. The search bar can be in the top header, most themes let you customize it that way.
4. Your sign up box can be underneath the header or in a strip at the bottom, in a non-pop up space.
Like I said before, readers hate too many ads, but what they really cannot stand is pop-ups! For years, pop-ups has been the way to go if you wanted more sign ups to your newsletter. A pop-up could serve all sorts of purposes, selling a product, promoting an affiliate link and more. Some blogs have their sign up form not only as a pop-up but also in the sidebar, a total waste of space.
Your sign up form can be placed in a couple of different spots without it being completely annoying. A great location for a Signup form or Freebie Opt In offer is directly underneath the header, almost as part of the header itself. Not only is it not in the sidebar, it is also more accessible and easy to see. Win win!
5. Your ads and badges can be in the lowest footer, under the header or inside the article if you really need them to be there.
Not having a sidebar does not mean you need to forget about those ads altogether. You can place an ad widget as a banner underneath the header, as square widgets in the footer and as text links or small banners in paragraph breaks inside your content. If you want to monetize your blog it doesn’t mean you need a sidebar!
If you guest post on other blogs or have sponsors, you can add the respective badges also in the footer or even create an entirely different page called “sponsors” or “clients” or “collaborations” where you show off all the badges and buttons with respective links.
The future of blogging is always changing, as the years progress we will see more and more blogs not using sidebars as we will also see more and more blogs with two sidebars, hundreds of ads and a confusing content layout. Which do you think will be more successful? I leave that up to you to decide.