Should My Website Have a Sidebar?

Should My Website Have a Sidebar? pixelwork

Should My Website Have a Sidebar?


I think it was Shakespeare who once said, “Sidebar, or no sidebar, that is the question.”

Shakespeare was a smart guy. He knew that the best way to make an important decision was to stop, take a moment to think about the possible consequences of that choice, and speak out loud to a crowd so they could hear all sides of the discussion. And you know what? I think it's a brilliant way to approach these questions and I'm going to do exactly the same thing here today.

So, the question is this: Should your website have sidebars or should you ignore them?

Sidebars have played an important role in web design, since we've moved on from the 2000's, where everyone was busy trying to figure out how to design an Internet page. Now in the '10s, I like to think we have it all figured out.

I mean, we can do some pretty amazing things with just a touch of a button or a quick update of code. So, it's no longer about learning our way around designing software or content management systems to create great designs. That is a fact. Now we're just trying to do it more effectively.

Where does this leave the sidebar? Is it getting in the way of effective web design? Until recent years, the sidebar has proven to be an extremely useful tool in web design, allowing us to:

  • Include information that might not fit on one page.
  • Place a call to action or form without interrupting the flow of content.
  • Give visitors added value.
  • Put a focus on content that could be lost on the blog.
  • Place ads, whether your own or affiliates.
  • Share live feeds from social networks.
  • Improve blog navigation by including links to recent posts, categories, tags, RSS subscription forms, search boxes and more.

There's no doubt that sidebars have been useful in the past. However, as minimalism and UX design gain more traction with each passing year, we're starting to see sidebars fall by the wayside. So, that leaves me wondering if sidebars are on the way out and, if so, what we're supposed to do with all that content we've been storing all this time.

Luckily for us, there are a number of experts who have thought about this. Should we use sidebars? If we use sidebars, on which pages? To the left or right of the page? You may be surprised at what these experts have to say.


Should I have sidebars?

I have reviewed many different studies and expert opinions on this topic of whether or not you should use sidebars. Although it seems like most take a strong “yes” or “no” stance, I found myself wondering in the end if maybe it doesn't have to be a completely yes or no, black or white question. Let me take you through the logic:


Opinion #1: Usability Geek

Yona Gidalevitz wrote an analysis article for Usability Geek last year about why sidebars are useless. But instead of saying that sidebars have absolutely no place in UX design, he demonstrated how a sidebar could be used purposefully.

The example given comes from Google Drive, a platform we all know well.

Your argument, in this case, is that the sidebar makes sense for this site because:

  • It is consistent with all Google app designs.
  • It serves a real purpose and is not just loaded with unnecessary widgets.
  • It replaces the traditional top navigation that most sites have.

Outside of that, however, he repeatedly demonstrates how major news websites continue to load their designs with unnecessary and distracting sidebars.

They all seem messy and it's really just information overload. If you think about it, there are so many other interesting things we can do with all that information that we would have previously saved in a sidebar:

  • Popups
  • Floating social icons
  • Related Articles Widget Below Blog Posts
  • Internal ads
  • Footer content
  • Calls to action

“Cleaning” is essential to maintaining a stylish and functional website, so why fight a sidebar? At least that's the argument made by Usability Geek for UX design.


Opinion #2: Video Fruit

Bryan Harris of Fruit video The question was asked, “What would happen if you eliminated the sidebar and focused readers' attention solely on the content?"

Clearly he was frustrated with the .3% click-through rate (CTR) on his blog's sidebar, and so he and his designer set out to test this alternative scenario. The hypothesis was that if the distraction in the sidebar of the page was removed, more people would be willing to read through the post and click on the call to action, even if it was placed at the bottom.

And that's exactly what happened.

A/B tests were done on the VideoFruit website, they found that the version without sidebar got 26% more subscribers than the sidebar version. Now, although the original results did not leave them with enough confidence to permanently remove the sidebar, it seems that the subsequent tests they did did give them confidence since there is no longer any trace of the sidebar in its place:

If you're curious about what they use now, it looks like they're using floating social icons, popups, as well as a greeting bar.


Opinion #3: Impact BND

Here's another company that was struggling with this existential crisis. John Bonini of Impact He asked himself: “You can't remove the sidebar from your blog, can you? Every “ninja” and “guru” with a decent internet connection and a modest knowledge of grammar and syntax has a sidebar on their blog. How else are you supposed to generate sales? ”

The theory he came up with was similar to VideoFruit's premise: if we remove the sidebar and reduce all these extra distractions around our content, maybe visitors will stay focused long enough to get to the call to action in the background. .

Impact went one step further and I altered the design of your CTA reducing friction and keeping visitors on the page to convert.

Here are the results of their A/B test:

  • With sidebar: 33 clicks on the form; 14 shipments of forms.
  • No sidebar with improved CTA: no clicks on the form (since it was right on the page); 24 shipments of forms.

As in the case of VideoFruit, you can now see that Impact no longer has a sidebar on its blog:


Opinion #4: Neil Patel

Okay, this next one is about Neil Patel, the guy behind Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics, two companies passionate about helping businesses increase online conversions.

In 2015, Patel wrote an article titled “Does Your Blog Need a Sidebar?” I agree, this post is two years old, but the blog still has a sidebar, so it seems that Patel remains firm in his belief.

Here is his argument:

Sidebars give - the seller, the writer, the company, etc. - the opportunity to:

  • Get more subscribers putting the registration form by email.
  • Establish a more personal connection with the audience providing information from the site.
  • Include high-quality internal links to worthwhile site content keep in sight of your audience.
  • Use these same links to notify search engines about content that you want to repeatedly associate with the site.

Additionally, Patel not only suggests that a sidebar is necessary for your blog, but he also believes that It should be on the right side of the page. What he found after testing this issue was that the left sidebars resulted in a 9% fewer visits to blog articles, but 13% more subscribers. Here was his rationale for choosing to put his blog's sidebar on the right:

“The number of posts read increased by 9%. In the end, the purpose of a blog is to educate you through content… so why would you remove it? “


Summary of results

There is a part of me that wants to take the position of case 1 and 2 who decided that sidebars are obsolete. You can't really argue with their logic: unless the sidebar is simple and purely functional in nature, it doesn't belong on a website. Plus, with so many visitors coming from mobile devices, all those elements in the sidebar disappear anyway.

In the end, however, I think this It's a decision you'll have to make on your own., since you will know what is best for your site. I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that sidebars have a specific place on certain pages of a website, so if you're thinking about putting it on your home page, site info page, or contact page, you should probably reconsider. .

Your blog, however, is a different thing. Visitors expect to turn to the right of the page to see:

  • Email opt-ins
  • Social Media
  • Search bars
  • Categories

According to research conducted by Egon Sarv, These are the most common elements on sites with a blog section. Therefore, if you are going to choose to have a sidebar, those are the most common elements to take into account.



As with anything else that could have a serious impact on your site traffic and conversions, uses A/B split testing. Your site may be the perfect candidate for maintaining a sidebar, as Neil Patel suggests. Or you may just need to remove it so people can stay more focused on the content. Ultimately, you will have to make the decision based on your end goal.