Sue Waters Blog

The Enjoyable Aspects Of Decluttering Sidebars!

| 10 Comments

Image of cluttered videosFirst impressions count!

Combine poor theme choice with a cluttered sidebar and you have a recipe for convincing first time visitors NOT to subscribe to your blog.  They’re too busy being turned off to notice your great posts!

Unfortunately sidebar clutter creeps up on most bloggers.  So I thought it would be helpful to share the process I regularly use to declutter my sidebar.

Prioritizing SideBar Decluttering

What I do is take a critical look at my design in the following order of priority (which also reflects their location in my sidebars):

  1. How obvious is it for readers on how to subscribe to my blog?
  2. How easy is it to find information on my blog?
    • Search widget – Is it prominent & near top of blog sidebar? (I prefer a search that only search my blog)
    • Categories and tags – Are they helping readers easily find relevant information?
  3. What other widgets do I have in my sidebar?  Which ones can I live without? — if you compare this blog with The Edublogger you will notice a difference in number of widgets in the sidebars.

Image of drop down menuTip: If you want to display Archives on your blog sidebar it is better to use a drop down menu as it takes up less room.

Editing Categories

Unfortunately my categories failed this latest audit in terms of “Are they helping readers easily find relevant information?” – so I changed too many messy categories (21 categories on this blog) to fewer, more relevant categories (10 categories).

Off course editing each post on this blog (300 posts) and The Edublogger (100 posts) to fix categories was thoroughly excruciating enjoyable.

NOTE: Refer to this post to learn about the difference between categories and tags.

My tip for speeding up the process is to hold the Ctrl key when you left mouse click on the title on the post in your blog dashboard — this opens up the post so you can edit it in a new tab (for FireFox, Flock and Internet Explorer 7).  This open up 15 posts in 15 separate tabs and work through the task faster!

Image of opening up posts

FINAL THOUGHTS

Would love to hear your priorities in using widgets on your sidebar especially in terms of what are your ‘must have’ widgets and why?

This was part of the Day 8 Task for Building a Better Blog.

Image adapted from John Pannell licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike.

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider Subscribing for free!

Author: Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

10 Comments

  1. This is a great post and very timely. Last year someone wrote a review of my blog and in it said they loved the content and “overlooked” the design issues. Ouch! One of the problems was the cluttered sidebar. I revamped in January and have been really happy with the new simple look. I love your recommendations…esp. “what can I live without?” and the search widget — One sidebar on blogs that I find unhelpful in the sidebars include:
    -Links to other blogs they like (often this is a HUGE list–overwhelming…I think it should be narrowed to 5). I know this should be helpful, but when it is such a long list, I just don’t have the time to really look at them.

  2. Hi Sophia, my name is Marnie and I am a sixth grader from Indiana. Great advice on sidebars…. I have recently done this. I would like to know how you get SO MANY visitors. My blog gets a fair amount but I would enjoy if more readers visited it. My question to you Sue, is how do you do it?

    http://marnies604.edublogs.org/

    ~Marnie

    • Hi Marnie,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Wow that is a hard question. I’ve never really focus on making sure I get lots of visitors more focus on making sure I write good posts, that are unique while also helping others. By doing this and taking time to help others by providing input when appropriate (by leaving comments on their posts to answer their questions) – it has just built up over time.

  3. Hi Sue Waters, my name is Marnie and I am a sixth grader from Indiana. Great advice on sidebars…. I have recently done this. I would like to know how you get SO MANY visitors. My blog gets a fair amount but I would enjoy if more readers visited it. My question to you Sue, is how do you do it?

    http://marnies604.edublogs.org/

    ~Marnie

  4. Sorry about the first comment… I copy the first few lines of my comments and keep re-pasting them.

    ~Marnie

  5. Hi Liz. Ouch that is definitely hard when someone does a review of your blog like that. I notice you are using blogger and a lot of people do have more trouble keeping their sidebars uncluttered in blogger so you have done an excellent job with your new design.

    Blogroll is such a hard topic. As an edublogger you are like expected to have a blogroll but it is really easy to offend people if you don’t include them. My solution has been to place the blogroll onto it’s own page and use Google Reader to automatically create it. This works well and the page gets high traffic.

  6. Hi Sue
    I have just created a edublog and already confronting my first brick wall! this is a bit left field… I know to the previous comments & nothing to do with your blog! but I need HELP! i’m flying all over the place on the site & not sure if I’m arthur or martha!! I desperately need to grasp this concept of elearning as I am studying teaching at CQU & is a necessary requirement.
    I am required to create my own blog, which is fine. I log in & create my account but to my horror (might be due to getting an average of 4hrs sleep a night this week!), I spell the name of my blog incorrectly. I called it Managing eLearning, but spelt it ‘eLearnging’ or something like that! could u please help me in directing me on how to change this. Now when I log onto my blog, it’s right there in my face – a big bold title – with spelling errors!! ah!
    Please help
    Alice

  7. Thanks so much Sue!! wonderful. Off to class now and will have a play later. I like to call it ‘play’ so that I’m telling myself that I CAN DO THIS!! ha ha

    Alice

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