If you’ve been wondering what to include in your website’s sidebar, you’re definitely not alone.
Or maybe you’ve been wondering if your site should have a sidebar at all?
I know a lot of people struggle to determine which content to feature in their site’s sidebar. So in this post, I’ll cover the 3 C’s of an All-Star Sidebar: Context, Connect, and Call To Action (CTA) — plus, I’ll tell you more about why I’m not a big fan of sites going sidebar-less, altogether.
The first kind of content you should include in your sidebar is content that gives your reader context. In other words, someone who’s brand new to your site should be able to glance at your sidebar and get a general idea a general idea about of who you are and what your site is all about.
Here are a few key pieces of information you might want to consider including in your sidebar to provide visitors with context for the content they’ll view on your site:
- A headshot – go with a professional photo if you have one
- A 1-2 sentence bio – describe who you are and what you do
- A few professional “highlights” – think awards, accolades, publications/sites where you’ve been featured (avoid going overboard by picking 2-4 of the most relevant or most recent “highlights”)
Let’s be honest, these days people expect to be able to connect with everybody and everything at the tap of their finger. And while it can be hard to keep up with society’s expectations when you’re running and growing a business, one way you can use this expectation of “instant gratification” to your advantage is to add social media buttons in your sidebar.
Linking directly to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. right in the sidebar means visitors will see these buttons the majority of the time they’re on your site. So, people are always a click or tap away from another platform where they can interact with you and your business, even when they’re not on your site.
Not to mention, this is a great way to increase your social media following and build a bigger audience of potential clients/customers.
The last ‘C’ to include in your sidebar is “Call to Action” (CTA) content — or content that guides your readers’ attention to a freebie or paid offer you want to promote.
To avoid cluttering your sidebar with a bunch of glorified ads for your own business, don’t list every resource and/or offer you have available. I’d recommend featuring one “gated” freebie (aka: any content that requires people to provide their email address before they get access to it…like a free ebook, email course, etc.) and one paid offer
And it’s completely ok to switch up your CTA sidebar content to emphasize your most relevant offers (especially offers that are time sensitive like a course you’re launching or an upcoming free live webinar).
Three Quick Sidebar Tips To Get You Started…
Hopefully, the 3 C’s gave you a good understanding of why I’m such a big fan of having a sidebar — it’s prime real estate on your site. And if you use the 3 C’s to help you determine the content to include, you can be sure that your sidebar will be a functional and valuable component of your website.
Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
- Sometimes the hardest part of setting up your sidebar is envisioning how you want it to look. Start by browsing sidebars on other sites and make note of what you like and dislike about them.
- A general rule of thumb, include a maximum of 5 things in your sidebar. For example: a headshot, a one sentence bio, your social links, a freebie promotion, a “hire me” button linking to your services, and a short “featured on” section.
- If you’re using WordPress, consider customizing your sidebar with the range of different options available to you. I’ll explain more and show you how to customize your sidebar in the tutorial below.
Want more help with your site’s sidebar? Book a website review!