Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Declutter Your Sidebar!

 

What's something 99% of blogs have in common? They have sidebars! A lot of times sidebars can turn into the "junk drawer" of your blog, with outdated clunky buttons and widgets laying forgotten, in the mean time taking up precious space on your blog.

Luckily this issue has lots of easy fixes that will make your blog a neater, more professional, and all-around more user-friendly experience. Below I have some tips and tricks, and two coinciding challenges for you to do that will help you get the most out of your sidebars!

TIME TO DECLUTTER!

When’s the last time you cleaned out your sidebar? If you’re like me, it’s probably been awhile. Leftover buttons for giveaways that ended last year, or widgets for highly anticipated releases that came out last week are the most frequent sidebar clutter.

But even beyond that, bloggers tend to overstuff their sidebars with things they don’t need. They don’t really add anything to your blog except load time, which isn’t what your readers want. You want to optimize your sidebars so they best reflect your blog without distracting from the content.

What do you really need? The only things I think a blogger really needs are follow options, an archive, and a grab button (with an HTML code!) Challenge and event buttons, and about me section, and all that other pretty stuff could ideally go on its own page, but since that’s somewhat unrealistic, instead you can prioritize your content. Putting the most important content on top is not only going to benefit your readers, but also help you keep things organized.

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CHALLENGE #1

Go through EVERYTHING on your sidebar and delete anything and everything outdated. Easy, right? 

Comment below telling me how much clutter you got rid of!

CHALLENGE #2

Prioritize all your content based on importance. Every blog is different, but you still want to optimize the content of your sidebars. You could easily follow my example above of how to organize them, or however you feel you could get the best out of your sidebars.

Comment below telling me any changes you made in the order of your sidebar content!

26 comments:

  1. I think this is a great post! Unfortunately, I somewhat obsessielytry to de-clutter the sidebar, so I'm not sure there's much I can do!

    I guess I'll change the "currently reading" book picture. I AM still currently reading Tigana, but it's been up there for awhile and probably will be.

    I haven't been able to find a way to get Wordpress let me add a "grab code" box for the button, but I'll go double check.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen it on other Wordpress blogs, so it's definitely possible. Probably just needs a little bit of fiddling!

      Delete
  2. Great Challenge! I'm pretty good about updating my sidebar, but I decided it was time to get rid of all the buttons proclaiming events I'm participating in; I realized they were distracting from other (and more important) information. I also deleated a Goodreads widget showing what I had recently read, I thought that was a bit excessive as you can find my reviews elsewhere. I've turn out to be a minimalist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if being a minimalist works for you, great! Glad you were able to clean up a bit!

      Delete
  3. My sidebar isn't too cluttered, and I like everything there. Does this count? lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course! If they're perfect in your eyes, that's all that really matters (:

      Delete
  4. I didn't have too much clutter to begin with (I don't think) so I just got rid of a few boxes of links and also only kept the most important social media icons (went from 8 to 3 in my redesign the other week).

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've been quite picky with my sidbars to begin with ... I think my order goes like this:

    What I'm Reading
    Search tool (I think this is VERY important!)
    Connect links (Twitter, FB, YouTube, Feedburner, etc.)
    Subscribe by Email
    Top Posts (not really necessary, but I like it)
    Blog Stats
    Edmonton Book Blogger image and link (since I'm the maintainer of it)
    Image and link to my other blog
    Events that are current

    I really hate too much clutter in the sidebar! And I love it when a blog is easy to navigate through its sidebar -- like following buttons. It can be a pain if all the ways to follow are scattere haphazardly around a blog. Make it easy!

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I try to periodically declutter my sidebars. But I did remove some images that linked to older reviews.

    I have how to contact me; author photo; stuff about me; blog button; currently reading; and a few reviews.

    My new theme has the list of pages in a more concise fashion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I try to keep up on my sidebar...no junk allowed! But I did get rid of a few things, thanks for the inspiration! ;) I have what I think is a decent order of things left on my sidebar. There are a few things that I think I could lose but I'm nervous to delete them! "Categories" for one thing. (I should add a page for a review archive instead)"Popular Posts"..hmm, do I really need that? I'm rambling here aren't I? How about this: Go check out my blog and give me honest feedback? I'd be much obliged!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think I have things organized to be easy to find, pleasing to the eye and not overwhelming, but I might move some things to tabs that are not completely necessary for my sidebar. Off to update and see what I can change. Thanks for the reminder to clean up my sidebars! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is great! I actually did this several weeks ago -- I guess I was unwittingly having my own personal Bloggiesta at the time. I'm still not sure everything is quite the way I want it, but it is SO much better and I felt SO much better when it was done! Thanks for an excellent post -- I know many will find it helpful!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I ended up hiding my labels on my blog. I think they are clutter and a huge mess. I don't know any blogger who actually reads through them.. I still label my posts for google purposes though.

    Angie

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks! I tidied up my sidebar and wrote about the process in this post: http://www.joyweesemoll.com/2013/03/23/declutter-your-sidebar-bloggiesta-mini-challenge/

    ReplyDelete
  12. This was an awesome challenge! I normally keep up fairly well with my sidebars but the last little while they seem to be getting a bit of clutter. I removed my favorite series banners to my about me page, I also removed some tour banners/host graphics and removed some challenge icons. I didn't change any of the order because my basically goes in the same of yours and I'm quite happy with it. The most important to me is the follow me information has to be at the top. Awesome challenge, thanks for hosting this!!
    Lauren @ Lose Time Reading

    ReplyDelete
  13. This was a great challenge. I got rid of books I'm looking forward to and blogs I love and moved them to the pages bar at the top of the blog. I got rid of a few goodreads gadgets as well. I've noticed that my page now loads super fast-even in I.E.!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Challenge 1 ~ I deleted half of my left sidebar which had been outdated events and blogs that don't even work anymore :(

    Challenge 2 ~ I cannot seem to decide what to put on my sidebar so I've just left it bare minimum for now. I only have my GFC, Social media icons, Upcoming Tours, my button, 2 x blog events I'm participating in and one blog love button.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Debz I'm quite confused, your Stalk Me button has the RSS feed reader, isn't the Feedburner, Bloglovin and Subscribe to all the same?

      And whilst we're on the topic of sidebars, what are people's preference? 2 column vs 3 column?

      Thanks!

      Delete
  15. I cleaned up my sidebar by making better use of the tabs at the top of the page. I put my photo, about me, and reading challenge widgets and such in their own tabs. Great challenge, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow, I admit that you do have an excellent sidebar. I wish I were that talented - well, what I really mean is I wish I knew where you got the codes to put in all that stuff. Like the code for your Stalk Me! button. where'd you get that?

    I decluttered my sidebar by adding a challenge tab - that's mainly what needed cleaning up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that facebook button! Where'd you get that? I was trying and trying to figure out how to put one in, and then I just gave up.

      Delete
    2. Glad you got things cleaned up a bit! Challenge buttons seem to be the biggest source of clutter. The "stalk me!" buttons were super easy! It's the same exact code you'd use for a grab button. The hardest part was tracking down the images and tweaking them. It'll take longer than a comment to explain how the code works and how to change it (if you don't already know how), but you can always email me, or I can add a tutorial in the next few weeks! Others have been asking as well.

      As for the Facebook button, I just went here, and customized the button (:

      Delete
  17. This mini-challenge really helped to give me the push to update my social media icons on my sidebar, I had the goal from the start of Bloggiesta but I needed motivating to do it, so thank you! I also changed the positioning of my Search bar and purged my Goodreads widget. I might add it again at a later date, but right now, I'm happy without it. Thanks for the challenge! :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am doing this mini-challenge for Summer 2014 Mini-Bloggiesta. I removed three outdated items from my sidebar. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love these events, as I definitely love decluttering my sidebars, one of the first things I do each time. Mine are in order of importance (to other bloggers, I think): Search, connect buttons, two or three reviews, comments, community, categories.

    I had one in my sidebar that was important to how the blog came to be. For that one, I created a new page.

    ReplyDelete

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