A sidebar is one of the most important aspects of your website layout. Visitors get an idea about your blog or website through the sidebar, before they make up their minds to stay or quit. So, making sure your website has a great sidebar is of significant importance; your sidebar must encourage visitors to take a closer look at your website. It should act as a trigger for better user engagement and increase the probability of conversions.
Before I talk about some of the most inspiring sidebar designs that I have across on the web, I would like to share few words on the criteria for a great sidebar.
So, what makes a great sidebar that converts?
It should be above the fold
What does the phrase ‘above the fold’ mean? Everything you see on a website, before your begin to scroll is called ‘above the fold’. Place a well-designed sidebar laden with useful content or links, there. It will catch every visitor’s attention.
Eye-catching but not distracting
You can place the sidebar on the left or right side of the web page. Usually, it is on the right side because we read from left to right. Sidebar may host a video or a captivating image, but take care that it must not distract the visitors, especially if they come to your blog to read your posts.
Prompts deeper interactions
The whole purpose of the website is conversion and if your sidebar augments it, then you have got it right. The perfect sidebar encourages visitors to click deeper into your website or blog.
Now let’s take a look at 4 examples of websites that leverage their smart sidebar design for more conversions:
1. Leverage Representative Advertising with Relevant Sidebar Design
Online advertisement is a huge industry and I will not ignore the idea of advertising in the sidebar area of the website.
I came across www.onpasture.com and was impressed by how cleanly the content is spread on the left and well complemented by the related advertisement in the sidebar area on the right. It is a good content marketing practice, to influence the decision of readers through useful content and encouraging them to click on related advertisements.
A terrific use of sidebar to drive up targeted traffic to ads!! Content relevancy and good user experience go hand-in-hand on this website.
If you are content marketer, I recommend you follow this sidebar design concept. There is a very good chance, you will be surprised by the viral clicks your website gets and the fact that it becomes a money-spinner quickly!
2. Leverage Video Marketing with Sidebar Design
Video marketing is the next big thing in the online marketing world. According to Guardian, it is the future of online marketing.
If a picture is worth a 1000 words, how many words do you think a video is worth?
You see how important video marketing is to your online business.
I came across www.lynda.com, an online tutorial website, hence loaded with heavy content. But the designer has smartly used the sidebar area. The video links of the courses on the sidebar relate with the main content on the page. The links take you deeper into the website and help you explore more related courses without losing your way. You will face no navigation issues and you are always where you intend to be.
The relevant, compelling videos in the sidebar enhance user experience and make your search simple and easy.
If you have an online business, you can embed video testimonials relevant to the content on the same page and win your prospective clients’ trust; this can trigger conversions.
I will definitely recommend this type of sidebar layout for video marketing companies and content marketers (who want to pursue online video marketing).
3. Side Bar Design that Makes Content Go Viral
I came across www.viperchill.com, a great viral marketing website; content-centric with a well-used sidebar space. Though its design is very simple, the sidebar is quite effective in delivering the intended message.
Look at the testimonials about Glen, the owner of the site. They are all from credible sources like Copyblogger and Guardian.
The social media buttons are nicely placed below t popular post archives. The highlighted comment -numbers will prompt you to click and maybe share them on your social media pages. All the content in the side bar is packed, nice and clean.
What you have is a simple but engaging sidebar design, well placed to increase virality of content.
4. Enhance the Visual Experience with Collapsible/Expandable Sidebar Design
Collapsible/expandable sidebar gives more room to spread the visual content- images and video on the web page without shutting out important navigational links from the home page.
- Collapsible/Expandable Menu on the Right side
Animal planet is a wildlife TV channel that has a great looking website http://blood-and-water.animalplanet.com/. The collapsible side bar with links, takes you deeper into the website from the main page without interfering with the great video presentations on different pages. You find the sidebar on every page and at the bottom, social media buttons. So, content sharing is quite easy.
The combination of a dynamic sidebar and scrolling make browsing a painless and pleasurable experience.
The content also gets its prominence because the collapsible sidebar menu does not interfere with it. The sidebar menu simply slides out and expands after you click the special icon.
- Expandable Menu on Left side
The website www.createpilates.com is another good example of an expandable/collapsible sidebar menu. If you click the special icon on the top right corner of the website, a full-height sidebar menu appears. If you click any link, you will automatically scroll down to the desired content.
The full-height sidebar menu on the left side in yellow background immediately draws attention to all the important navigational links. Clicking on the ‘CROSS’ icon in the top-right corner of the sidebar collapses the menu into a special icon, which can again be expanded into a full-height menu, whenever you want.
You get a clear, full-spread view of the image or content, free from unwanted text because of the collapsible feature of the sidebar.
Sidebar design should complement the content, whether visual or text. Depending upon the nature of the online business and type of content hosted on your website, you can leverage the sidebar design effectively to increase conversion rates.
Author Bio: Michael Georgiou is a dynamic business professional and entrepreneurial guru associated with Imaginovation – Website Design Company in Raleigh proven his success in creative strategy, online branding, project management, and communication projects in both the public and private sectors.