It is a growing trend for blogs to remove their sidebar to focus on the content and to improve conversions (by placing call of action boxes such as email sign up, affiliate links or selling products) within the content page.
They mentioned that having a sidebar will distract the readers from reading the content and also from testing, they find that readers seldom click on any items on the sidebar.
Some popular blogs still maintain a sidebar but it is used to put an email sign up form, social share buttons and a few popular posts and the author’s bio.
However, the challenge I find when visiting such blogs is that if I am really interested in the site and wish to read through older posts, I had a hard time trying to figure out how to get into the archives. Because some of them removed their archives and category pages as well.
Usually such authors have lots of other awesome or useful posts that gets buried in the archives. Without the sidebar which categorically list down the topics, I feel the blog is not showing its full potential.
Why I still maintain a sidebar on all my blogs
In the end, it is down to your personal objective when it comes to getting visitors. I love to share what I write with others and are not looking into selling any products or ebooks. Hence, I just use automated programs like Feedburner if readers wishes to have updates of my new posts.
Perhaps it is due to a strong ingrained practice when I was managing intranets that a sidebar is indispensable when you are running an information portal with many products, processes, codes and FAQs. Not to mentioned unscheduled happenings and updates.
All the functions cannot be achieved without a sidebar. I will get many complaints from users if I only put a search button and then keep my intranet site without a navigation panel.
I have a few blogs, like this one which does not deal with only a single niche topic. Hence I would create custom sidebars for each category and then group similar topics together. After I implemented this in my older blogs, I saw the number of pages visitors by organic traffic increased from average 1 page plus to 3 pages plus per visit.
Regardless of what is said, visitors do view your sidebar.
Furthermore, most visitors are now accessing to your site via mobile devices. When they use their Smartphone to access, the sidebar gets pushed to the button of the page after the content.
Hence in this context, if the visitors make it to the end of the page, it shows they are interested in what your writing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able that they can also see what other awesome articles you have?
OK, you would be thinking….well the “Related Posts” function can also achieve this.
While I love the “Related Posts”, I find that it does not display what I wanted even though I may be having an awesome plugin. When I visit a good site, I find the related posts are always similar. If I really want to search further….I will try to look for the older posts and most of the time I am able to find a lot of awesome posts by the author that never shows up in the related posts.
How about “search” function, you may ask.
If you know what you are searching for, then a “Search” function is great. Sometimes, I really don’t know what to search for.
But often, I admire the author’s style of writing that I want to manually sieve through their past articles to read other great articles that they have written. So a “search” is not really a good way to achieve this objective even though it is indispensable button that every site must have.
Sometimes it takes more than a few articles to gain a subscriber. Because nowadays visitors find themselves inundated with sales promotion emails once they sign up. So they would want to read more content to get a feel of the author’s style to know if it is worth signing up for the newsletter or not.