Tonight’s #blogchat was set on managing and maximizing sidebars!
Personal note; no one’s appreciated my fun ajax-based sidebar at all – I may end up removing it after all.
Link of the Week – The 5 Types of Blogs – Which One Suits You Best? (Ink Rebels)
Mack Collier made a good point about sidebars: if we accept them as global metadata carriers, they need to reflect the motivation of the blog itself. Monetized blogs are expected to have ads, archival blogs are expected to have massive navigation capabilities. Think of who you’re writing for – friends? Business? Money? Information?
Mack also made another point – widgets from external services increase load times drastically. Consider this when adding your seventh or eighth “Fan This” box.
The general, immediate consensus was that having some very key information above the fold in your sidebars is a big deal. @amydpp and @tsudo, my apparent twin, mentioned the following which NEED to be in the beginning of every sidebar:
- An RSS button
- A search box
- Email subscription box
- Social networking icons
I agree – this if nothing else will be forcing me to change my current theme.
I asked about 2/3 column testing and left or right handed layouts. @JDEbberly suggested it would make a good topic – I may write about some wireframing things later. @jfavreau suggested hir use of 3-column layouts reduced usability.
Well-designed sidebars act as access points to the archive of the blog – proper cataloguing considerations need to be taken.
@WaynesBNP uses WP Greet Box to make sure the subscribe button is always visible to new visitors.
This led to the great Breath of Inspiration for the night – sidebars really must be global metadata. What you put there is a very good indicator of how you see the reader moving around your space.
This means that post- or page-specific metadata needs its own place, and that has to be respected as well. Author names, categorization, tagging, etc – even related posts, are very important for archival quality Information architecture is a bigger deal than most people give credit for. @erinloechner mentioned, to this point, that related posts in a post’s meta space are a good idea, and can do a far better job than tag clouds.
On that note, tag clouds are so 2008. Give them their own page, with your blogroll, or get rid of both entirely.
What do you think? Are you paying enough attention to the Table of Connections that is your sidebar?
Transcript for the night from WTHashtag, courtesy of Mack Collier.
Also – make sure you join the #blogchat Group on LinkedIn!
this week’s #Blogchat Participants’ List courtesy of Ksenia Coffman.
Image by solo, with others.