How often have you thought about the sidebar on your class blog? Commercial websites frequently dispense with them completely these days as one page design becomes king. Very few of the website home pages that we’ve done lately feature a sidebar. The reason why businesses have dispensed with sidebars is that it increases focus on your blog posts themselves and actually increases the chance of someone getting to the end of a post and interacting with it by liking it, sharing it, or leaving a comment, which after all is what blogging is about.
There is a tension here, though, because you also want your own class to be able to use the blog effectively. This means having a visible and easily accessible visitor counter, tag cloud, page menu etc, logically contained in a sidebar. So, I’ve long thought that sidebars need to be lean and mean, containing the bare minimum of content. They also need to be on the right. Why? Because research shows that 9% more visitors read blogposts when the sidebar is on the right. When the sidebar is on the left readers are more easily distracted. Sidebars on both sides are an absolute no go. And sidebars with stuff that moves are a huge distraction.
Putting a “sidebar” at the bottom is another possibility but this only really works if you have a magazine style theme otherwise readers have to scroll down too far. One school that have done this is Chorlton Park. Check out http://year4.chorltonparkblogs.net The menu at the top is very simple and the sidebar contains just 4 widgets. Another example using the same theme is http://bookweek.worsbroughcblogs.net Here the use of featured images adds a lot of visual appeal, although maybe a few too many blogposts are displayed!
So, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the sidebar on your class blog, strip it down, shift it right, or move it to the bottom?
If you need any help with redesigning your class blog, or choosing a new theme, get in touch.