If you have a blog or website, we highly encourage you to take a long hard look at what’s on your page. Is it there because it should be there? Or is it there because you’re told it should be, or simple want to fill up space? Do you really need that widget in your sidebar? Is it really an effective use of your online real estate?

There’s a chance that over time, you’ll continually pack on the pounds of excess “stuff” on your website, much the same way we gain weight during the holidays. But these items often stand in the way of accomplishing your goals. Taking the time for spring-cleaning is definitely well worth it. Let’s look and some of the reasons that distinguishes a useful sidebar from a useless sidebar:

Useful sidebar

  • Any content that needs to be highlighted again, or highlighted by a different categorisation method can be done well in the sidebar. Anything that requires skimming is great in a list within a sidebar.
  • Categories, Post titles, and indexes and so on that would lead directly to content can help the user navigate to content quicker. Suggested topics or titles are not recommended, and should be secondary navigation.

Useless sidebar

  • Depending on how large the particular navigation bar is, a compromise may be a reduction in size of associated menus. With a reduction in size, the elements should remain clearly visible. A smaller menu bar still hides content.
  • Sidebars are notorious for becoming wastelands of useless widgets and too much information. Especially if you have two (or more) of them on the same site!

So: Sidebar or No Sidebar? That’s a bit of a trick question. Sidebars are a very important piece of the web design puzzle. They should always be planned for adequately, and not treated as extra space to do whatever with.

Have you ever changed up one element on your blog and seen major results? I would love to learn from you. Share in the comment section below.

(source: wpmayor)