31 Days to a Better Blog – Day 10: Declutter your sidebar

I’m still there and up to day 10 of the 31 Days to a Better Blog challenge. The challenge set by Problogger Darren was something that I had already begun thinking about whilst stuck in a bad traffic jam earlier today. Yes, de-clutter your side bar. Read my thoughts below on how I will be approaching this and why.

Darren helps us with todays task by giving us some suggestions to help us to see what we do and don’t need on our sidebar/info areas on our sites. I feel we could all use these tips, by regularly doing a check of your blog or website, especially the homepage (doesn’t have to just be a blog) where in many cases people come to first, or if they entered your site elsewhere will return to to understand the context of your site. Is your homepage overloaded with unnecessary information? Well, these sidebar tips may help your website too.
Here’s what Darren had to say:

“Blog clutter has a way of creeping up on almost all bloggers. I’ve let it creep up as much as the next blogger and a big task in getting a new design together has been working out what to remove, what to move and what to keep in my sidebar.

Take a critical look at your blog’s design today and work out what you can live without.

  • What widgets, links, buttons or tools are just adding to the clutter of your blog and which are serving a purpose?
  • What could you move into your footer or other key pages (sometimes things could be more suited to a contact or about page)
  • What could you redesign or feature in a different way?”

All of these points are useful, although for many who blog, and also non-profits using pre-made web templates for their site, may not have the technical knowledge to move things around too much on the design layout for his third suggestion. But if using a blogging tool such as WordPress, they can put some of the additional information easily in another page, so the task doesn’t need to be too daunting to manage.

My learning observations

This sites sidebar isn’t actually at the side of my site. Officially it sits at the bottom of the page, as I personally like as much clear space for main content as possible. But as I am blogging more day by day, am starting to think deeply about the layout of my site and it’s design.

Earlier I was thinking about my ‘sidebar’ area, a never ending list of growing links for not only categories of posts but also dates too. (it was a big and long traffic jam – a car had caught fire at a major road junction!)

I’ve been designing my new navigation tab idea for my site and deliberating on the titles that will appear. Definately home, about me and the blog, possibly about learn more about RSS, contact and site map, and also, an Archives tab.
I hadn’t done the blog-roll or link-love aspects on the front page deliberately from the beginning, as I really wanted to have that separate as a space for not only links to others, but some of the tools I use. I especially didn’t want my ever-growing list of links clogging up home page which is potentially the first impression of me to new visitors.

I’ve used WordPress for a fair few sites for non profits, and recently moved my blog over to it for the purpose of blogging too.
Because I was using it for my own blog, I got a tad ‘widget happy’ in the first week, although quickly realised that having my twitter feeds appearing directly and some others like last.fm, not only made it not look right, but seriously impaired page loading speed and the accessibility and also didn’t meet the mark often with web standards. Not good. I know some of my readers are on dial up still, and why should I expect them to wait for everything to load just because I think it’s fun to overload my page with what in essence is nothingness. Instead I created humble simple links for my social spaces, giving the user, if interested the option to link to it.

I’m still working on my new site navigation and information architecture. I hadn’t anticipated needing it with a blog. But I am realising that because a blog can contain so much, good architecture is probably as important (if not more so!) with a blog as as with a normal website. Hopefully will get time in between all these tasks to implement fully next week.

Finally, Darren at Problogger has planned his launch to his new redesigned site very well (launches soon!), with a whole new readership connected because of the challenge and participating with him and his articles. A perfect tool for good marketing. When I first embarked on the challenge, I did find his site really hard to find information. It was very overloaded and difficult to find what I wanted and needed. So I welcome him doing a redesign. He’s also using the challenge to help him with his new site.

Filed under BB31Days, Nptech, Web design.