Step Aside

It is common for WordPress themes to include some or all of these basic page layout options:

  • full width display
  • wide main content area on the left side and a narrower content area on the right side
  • wide main content area in the center and narrower content areas on the left side AND right side
  • wide main content area on the right side and a narrower content area on the left side

The narrower content area of a page layout is commonly referred to as “the sidebar”. The sidebar is often displayed on all or many pages throughout the website. Sidebars can display the same content all the time or have variable content.

On a wide display screen (ex. Desktop or laptop), using a sidebar can be effective. For that reason website owners request to have key business information in placed in the sidebar area. Since the sidebar is viewable on many pages this idea makes logical sense. Showing key business information frequently to website visitors would seem to emphasize the importance of the content in the sidebar -since it will be displayed in a recurring manner.

But what happens to your important information in the sidebar when someone is viewing your website on a on a small(-ish) device? If your website is set up with flexible, adaptive or responsive characteristics, your page sidebar area(s) might seem to disappear on handheld devices. Remain calm. The sidebar content is not missing. Often the sidebar column gets relocated to a space UNDER main content display area. This does not create a big problem when no critical content is included in the sidebar column. However, this can be a problem if important details are located in the sidebar.

For example: What if you are selling a single product? Putting the product information in the sidebar of all pages seems like a great idea. However, what if the primary way to access the purchase button for the product is located within the sidebar area? On a smaller device, your product might be overlooked. What would that mean for the financial health of your business?

Using a sidebar in your website layout is not necessarily a bad move if you make careful choices about which content should be featured in the sidebar area.

3 responses to “Step Aside”

  1. Embrace the sidebar.

  2. Loose the sidebar? Interesting, I have been thinking about loosing my sidebar. Actually turning it into a floating hamburger. I seem to see a trend where people are getting into this zen / distraction free mode, while providing navigation else where in strategic spots..

    Lisa, you don’t have a sidebar, by design I assume? 🙂

  3. Rusty, I do have a sidebar set up for supplementary information on a few pages.