Monday, April 6, 2015

To Sidebar or Not? . . . and a Coaching Giveaway!


Sidebars.

Most blogs have one, usually on the right side of the screen.  Some of us have two, left and right.  We fill them to overflowing with lots of cool info that identifies / promotes / connects / supports us.  Bios, ads, pics, lists, labels, badges, videos, gadgets, links, comments, buttons, favorites.  

Our creativity ... and the sky ... is the limit.

I guess I envision my sidebar to be like a community bulletin board where readers can discover at a quick glance what's happening around here.  

You get to see what posts are hitting home and what other readers are talkin' about.  I especially love when something special jumps out of the achieves, takes on new life, and gets a bit of a re-birth as it makes its appearance in the lineup.  I like to make it easy for new readers to subscribe.  And it's fun to post recent shareworthy reads I've come across. 

Maybe I find the whole sidebar thing to be kind of reassuring 'cause it lets me know that yes, somebody out there is finding something of value here right about now.  

So why am I so intrigued by the minimalist layouts that Josh and Courtney and Sarah and the trio over at No Sidebar {and countless others} are sporting these days?

Their sites are clean and crisp and uncluttered.  The white space seems to speak a serene confidence in who they are and the importance of the message they speak.  I find myself taking a deep breath of relief at the lack of visual stimulation, the stillness, the quiet that washes over me when I stop by to visit.  There are no distractions as I savor their words.

There is no sidebar shouting, 'look at me, look at me!'

I've thought frequently about doing away with all that's holding court over on the right side.  But I get cold feet at the thought of it.  I've tried to figure out why.  And all I can come up with is that I value what's there.  And it's worth every bit of real estate it takes up.  

 So I'm keeping it as is.  For now.

Let's talk sidebars.

Thumbs up or down?

 Do you scan other's?  

Do you change yours up frequently?


In each monthly blogheart posting, we go behind the scenes of our writing,
past the numbers and the how-tos, and headed straight to the heart of what we do and why.

The best part?

FREE name-it-and-claim-it blog coaching session is offered to the first reader who leaves a comment.  If that's you, simply shoot me an email at Linda@CreeksideMinistries.com and we'll set up a time to chat. 

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Thanks for sharing this post with your online friends! 

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Linking up with Mary & Holly

46 comments:

  1. I haven't even noticed any blogs like these you've linked to with no sidebar, Linda. I typically don't have time to visit around the blogosphere to blogs that are new to me. I do it once in a while, but I suppose that means I don't see some of these other more "pioneering" blogs. I like the look. I've always appreciated an uncluttered blog look, but can't seem to bring myself to do it. I want people to have access to the many options for connecting with Messy Marriage or knowing who I am to leave it out. Although I love the look of uncluttered white space, I'd say, I'm one of those who would get frustrated at a blog like that because I couldn't find out all that I wanted to know. It would be a matter of "hunting down" more info and "ain't nobody got time for that!" ha! So I say, "yea" to a sidebar, at least at this point. I hope you had an incredible Easter weekend, my friend!

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    1. You said it all right here, Beth - 'I've always appreciated an uncluttered blog look, but can't seem to bring myself to do it.' That's kinda where I am right now, too. Maybe someday I'll get brave and go way out-of-the-box!

      Every once in a while I'll get an email from someone who is not at all blog savvy. They find subscribing, navigating links, and understanding the lingo to be very confusing. I guess I want to keep them in mind so they find a visit to be fun and inviting, not frustrating and overwhelming!

      ;-}

      Thanks for kicking off the conversation. Sure would love it if we could all put our feet up in person!

      Delete
  2. Interesting topic. I am a minimalist, so those blogs speak volumes to me. YET--the blog is all about YOU--and who you are. I truthfully do not ever look at the sidebars after the first glimpse at a new blog. I suppose--in complete truthfulness--I have not spent any time even thinking about this. We ALL want people to read our thoughts--but, sadly, I gave up trying to lure others in. SO, Dear Friend---whatever your blog looks like, I will read it---for I now know you and your heart--that is what is important to me!

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    1. Yes, yes. Knowing each other's heart, hearing each other's words, growing in relationship even at a distance. That's what this is all about.

      Everything else fades in comparison, doesn't it!

      I'm so grateful you're in my world, Lulu ...

      Delete
  3. I appreciate a simple-uncomplicated look. To me it makes it easy to navigate. The blogs you mentioned are very streamlined and peaceful, I like them. But I'm not sure if I'll change mine :)

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    1. Peaceful. Yes! And I love that we get to choose how we present ourselves and our spaces to the world! No blog police, only our hearts to guide.

      How good is that!

      Glad you're here today, Alecia!

      ;-}

      Delete
  4. Good food for thought. I had to go back to mine to refresh my memory as to what's actually there. I like simple and clean. I like white space. I'd probably be find doing away with some of what's currently there. I laugh that I have labels there when I'm not really good at using labels in my posts. lol. So yes, something to give more thought. I think I do like something to be there over to much white space, but it should be relevant (mine is not!). I do very much like what you include in yours, but I pretty much love everything you do!!

    Hope you had a lovely Easter, Linda.

    Much love.
    xoxo

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  5. Sometimes it just takes a little tweak here or there to give our spaces a fresh look, doesn’t it! Whether online or in our actual living spaces, it seems like we're longing for something lighter and more airy.

    Springtime seems to be whispering that invitation loud and strong this year ...

    Thanks for your sweet, kind words, Beth. You always come bearing grace!

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  6. I keep mine simple. In fact, going to have a couple taken off this week.

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  7. Hi Linda! Oh boo...I am so late here! I'd love another coaching session... As to sidebars, I do have one. I use it to invite people to visit me on Twitter and to sign up for emails of posts. Nothing monetized or anything. I'm just not that fancy. Which is fine with me.

    I do like it when people have their 'favorite' blogs listed. It's a nice way to meet new bloggers. I notice that Beth doesn't really visit new blogs, but I like to...I can see why some do it and some don't.
    So great to be back and reading your lovely words. You are one of the reasons I love blogging :)
    Monday blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. I'm not that fancy either! Kind of a nice place to be, isn't it?

      ;-}

      And to have you back here again, with that great new picture and your kind words? I'm so happy! I hope you loved your blogging break ... all your tribe must be thrilled to have you up and running again. {Well, maybe not RUNNING, per se, but you get my drift!}

      ;-}

      Delete
  8. Your words are so sweet Linda! All of our blogs are a representation of who we are. I love coming here and knowing I will be better for it. Keep being you, and I will keep visiting!

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    1. You've got a beautiful space going, friend! The gorgeous header first caught my eye, your white space came in at a close second.

      But it's your words, your heart, your love for Jesus that keeps me coming back. I'm grateful you're in my world!

      Delete
  9. Great topic, Linda! Some of the sites you referenced have sidebar info at the top or bottoms of their blog, rather than on the side. I like that look, too. It is definitely harder to "connect" with sites that don't offer basic "sidebar" information somewhere. Admittedly, not everyone is looking to "connect" some just want to be heard. {and that's fine} Personally, I'm drawn to blogs and people who want to connect.

    I actually used to have a lot more on my sidebar, but cut back to only the things I want to communicate or offer, mostly for the reasons you mentioned. {love the "community bulletin board" comment!} I like the "white space" look and was actually considering a new template this week - but I'm not sure I want to look like a lot of the other blogs out there.

    Unlike some, my blog is not my business, it's my ministry. I want visitors to feel warm and welcomed. I think part of the way you do that is by sharing pieces of yourself. My blog header and color do that. And, too, we tend to be visual people, so hopefully visitors will remember my site. I think if my site was for my business, I would be more apt to follow the trends. That said, there are still changes I want to make to my sidebar :) Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post!

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    1. Yeah, I like the info on the top or bottom, too, June. Since you have that artistic, creative flare, I look forward to seeing what you dream up in the coming weeks!

      I've loved your header this spring! While things have been cold and gray here, you've offered beauty and hope through your lens and your words.

      You refresh me, girl!

      ;-}

      Delete
  10. I'm a big fan of sidebars, although I do like the clean look of the no sidebar blogs you linked to. I agree with you on using part of that space to make it easy for people to subscribe. I also love having favorite posts there. When I find a new blog I like, it's nice to have easy access to their top posts to get a better feel of their whole blog.
    I don't switch mine up as much as I would like. I think it's a good idea to change it a bit every once in a while to keep it fresh :). Great thoughts here, my friend!

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    1. I love your header ... your designer captured you and all your creative energy in sparkling detail and color!

      Just too fun. The introduction to your online space. You, too!

      So glad you're in my world, Candace ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  11. Great question, Linda!! Personally, I find the sidebar most helpful when I am looking for a specific post or want to get an overview of what a person has written about. I look at the archives sidebar with regularity and find myself dismissing sites that don't have it.

    On the other hand, I often shut down websites and blogs that fill their sidebars with ads, video, and other things that cause the page to take forever to load or make navigation around the site difficult.

    I usually visit blogs or websites in search of specific information and I am looking for ease of navigation and finding what I need as quickly as possible.

    Candace also makes a good point about subscribing. If I like a site and want to subscribe, the easier the blogger makes that for me, the happier I am.

    I changed my left sidebar significantly a while back, by moving all the content elsewhere and deleting it. Having two sidebars felt too cluttered. The right sidebar, I rarely change. The analogy I would draw is that I know many people get annoyed when their favorite store switches up the aisles and moves items around. I think of the right sidebar as my aisles - the information that will help people navigate my blog and I want that to be as consistent as possible.

    Thanks again for raising the subject!!! I appreciate the discussion you started here - good ideas to consider from all.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. How cool that as I was responding to your last comment, you were jumping into this conversation here! Neat!

      Yes, I've moved on from visiting a few online spaces because my computer just refused to do the work it took to open all the photos and ads. It was disappointing because I loved the sites. But there's only so much time in each day and I found those experiences frustrating.

      Also pop-ups. That's a sure-fire way for me to leave and not return.

      ;-{

      Thanks for spending a bit of time here this morning sharing your input, Dar! I so appreciate your presence here!

      ;-}

      Delete
  12. Linda, when I started blogging you were not only an encourager, you are also a great teacher. I hope one day I will win your free coaching lessons *Smiles*

    Thank you for stealing a little time to see what is up on my blog.
    It goes a very long way and travels lots of miles to keep me full of smiles.
    Many Blessings

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    1. How good God is to have connected us from one side of the globe to the other! That's what blogging's all about, connecting heart to heart, encouraging one another, and enlarging our world in the process!

      I think it must give Him pleasure.

      Grateful, I am, friend ...

      Delete
  13. I do appreciate the clean look of no sidebar, but I'm like you--there's important stuff there that I don't want to let go of. :) Maybe one day I'll shed it, but not today. Have a great week, Linda!

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    1. I'm with you, Lisa. I'm not ready to let this layout go quite yet ...

      Sometimes it just works, ya know?

      ;-}

      Delete
    2. I'm going to go right along with you and Lisa on this...I have it with minimal information, but i think it's necessary. :)

      Delete
    3. It'd be fun to dream of unique things to do with this space! What would make it pop, what would attract the reader to spend some time browsing there!

      ;-}

      Delete
  14. I have not given my sidebar much thought. I will put that on my to do list for the future. I think I am going to be busy just getting my blog under control :)

    Hope you are doing well friend! Thank you for your blog coaching tips and tidbits. Have a great week!

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    1. I think you do an amazing job in writing and connecting despite your busy day job, Mary! It'll be neat to see what evolves as you transition into another season.

      The sky's the limit, girl! And you're heading there!

      ;-}

      Delete
  15. Your reasons for having a sidebar are great ones!

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    1. And speaking of great, it's so very good to see you again, Loralee!

      ;-}

      Delete
  16. Linda,
    I agree with you that I like the look of clean white pages on blog sites but I'm reluctant to do away with mine too! I imagine I will soon though. I do think it gives readers a snapshot glance of other posts and comments without them having to click through and that's a benefit of sidebars. And thank you so much for your encouraging words on my blog today, friend -- I so appreciated them! :)

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    1. I love visiting at your place ... your wise perceptions, the gorgeous images you share? They always speak deeply to my heart.

      I'm grateful that God has allowed our paths to cross in recent days, Valerie.

      Delete
    2. Me too, Linda! So grateful to have met a soul sister like you! :)

      Delete
  17. Interesting topic. I did check out a couple of your friends' sites, and they were actually quite nice. Very clean looking. I use the sidebars for the same reason you do, but honestly, there are some out there that I just can't even visit because they're too cluttered. And some have music, which I don't necessarily want to hear. I guess it's a matter of preference. Visiting from Coffee For Your Heart.

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    1. I'm with you, Mary. Too much happening at once and unbidden music that I haven't chosen to listen to, whether in real life or at an online site, just doesn't work for me. The online world's a super busy place, and I'm guessing that we're all longing for some quiet havens along the way.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! I'm glad you're here!

      Delete
  18. Linda,
    Oh, you got me....I do look at people's sidebar...I update my links to posts I find interesting on my sidebar...and what readers like of my blog posts varies depending on the readers...Blessings to you and thanks so much for your comment over at my blog....I felt so bad for you about your comment disappearing earlier and yet you kindly persevered and left me a note...Appreciate it, my friend :-)

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    1. All this insight and discussion are making me really look forward to closely looking at the sidebars of the sites I visit! There's alot to discover and some cool ideas out there.

      Still, the white space beckons ...

      And yeah, don't you hate when a long-winded comment that you're crafting simply vanishes with one slip of a finger?

      Sigh!

      ;-}

      Delete
  19. Linda,
    I agree that sidebars give me insight into the person's blog I'm reading. It says to me what really makes them tick. My ADD self, however, sometimes gets too sidetracked because I am "over stimulated" if that makes sense? I tend to go for more clutter-free spaces, but that's just me. Good discussion here...
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. I absolutely hear you about getting over stimulated. All the online action sure can take us there. You're so wise to see that, Bev. And to understand that the peace-filled, clutter-free spaces are calling your name.

      I hope Creekside is one of them!

      ;-}

      Delete
  20. I think the best use of a sidebar is bright images that attract the eye and draw them into your site and to click through.

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    1. Bright images really light up the page, don't they, Alyssa! I tend to gravitate toward blue, but I try to get some other hues in there whenever I can ...

      I love blue!

      And I love that you're visiting here with us! Please come back again soon, ok?

      ;-}

      Delete
  21. Hi Linda, I took your advise. I think 'less is more sometimes'. Please go over and check it out. I am loving it.
    Thought I should let you know.
    Blessings to you

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    1. Wow! Look at all that white space you dreamed up there! Lovely, lovely!

      Thanks for coming back and sharing your sidebar project with us, friend. It made me smile ...

      Delete
  22. I'm mixed on this, too. The clean sites are beautiful but I think the sidebar (at least some of it) leads to deeper engagement and community building (easier to find other posts and connect). However, too much of a good thing is, well, too much. I've seen some that are so cluttered that they distract from the message. I think it's whatever feels right - and works - for each blogger. Having it or not is part of each site's personality and tone. I like yours - good content but not too much. Great thought to take a fresh look at the site and think how to improve!

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    1. Deeper engagement. Community building. Yes, Yes, Kathryn, that's what we're looking for. You've said it so well.

      I guess beauty's in the eye of the beholder and what is cluttered to one looks just perfect to the other! I love that our spaces reflect who we are ... and I love that we've got a whole rainbow of ideas and brainstorms and opinions about it all.

      Good to see you again, friend! I'm glad you stopped by oh-so-early this morning!

      ;-}

      Delete

Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...

Linda

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