There are a lot of decisions that go into each and every one of your website designs. Fonts and colors are really only just the beginning.
A decision you always have to make is whether or not the website you’re designing will include a sidebar. Today, I’m going to help you answer that question for all of your future design projects.
Start out by considering the overall design aesthetic you’re going for.
If you’re going for a super minimalistic look and feel, a sidebar might add more clutter than you want there to be.
If you’re going for more of a full-width look with blocked sections, a sidebar won’t fit well.
But a lot of the time, it’s not quite that simple.
Does a sidebar help your client reach their goal?
If the design aesthetic doesn’t give you a clear answer, it’s time to think about your client’s goals. If you’ve watched any of my videos on designing strategic and effective websites, you’ll know just how important it is to have defined goals for each page of a website.
Knowing the goals for a site can make the sidebar decision very easy.
For example, if there’s a training your client wants their audience to know a lot about and they want to make sure everyone views their featured posts, a sidebar is a pretty simple way to make that happen.
However, if your client is focused on building trust and moving people to a shot or services page, you might find that a sidebar would be too much of a distraction.
What pages should include a sidebar?
If, based on your client’s goals, you decide that a sidebar is the way to go, you’re still not quite done.
A sidebar should never go on every page of a website.
For example, a page with products or services should be set up to make sure potential buyers are totally focused. A sidebar on those types of pages would just provide them with a distraction, which could change their buying decision.
A good rule of thumb is to start with a sidebar on only the Blog and Blog Posts pages.
The blog is the perfect place to allow audience members to learn information that gets them excited and ready for the next step. If the sidebar can be there to provide them with that next step, it can benefit everybody.
Just make sure that it’s totally focused on what your client wants their visitors to do. When deciding what to include, keep in mind that any item in the sidebar can distract someone from the current content they’re reading.
If your client would rather have them consider reading the content, that item is better left to be promoted somewhere else.
Always keep your client’s goals in mind
Really, as long as you’re keeping your client’s goals in mind throughout the project, you’re going to make the right decision. If, after you’ve completed the design you find that the sidebar seems to be too much of a distraction, you can always remove it.
If you’re looking for some more information on how to design strategic and effective websites, be sure to grab my 10 step checklist.