According to the WordPress Codex, “The sidebar is a narrow vertical column often jam-packed with lots of information about a website” (source). While that’s a great definition of what a sidebar is, let’s expand that to define a WordPress sidebar as a customizable area that you can jam-pack with any number of smaller content areas and features, known as widgets. Sidebars are used to show common information across any number of pages, making that content the most likely to be seen. Because of this high traffic, you should always strive to provide content that helps your clients, like quick links or recent news snippets, as well as content that drives clients to take a specific action, like “Buy Now” buttons or contact forms. So let’s look at a few great examples of sidebars using Orion Group’s very own clients: Coex3D, AB&K, and North America Phase Converters.
Coex3D is a Wisconsin business who manufactures the highest quality 3D printing filaments, and you can buy Coex3D’s filaments straight from their website. Their sidebar is used to display some typical information including a list of the most recent 3D printing news, as well as their social media links. Since Coex3D is frequently posting news, that list of news posts shows clients that Coex3D is an active company. Additionally, once you add a 3D printer filament to your cart, the contents of your cart are displayed in the sidebar. This is extremely useful for Coex3D’s customers, because the customer always has a reference to the products added to the cart.
AB&K is the fastest growing remodeler in the Milwaukee area (sidebar pictured below). They specialize in Kitchen remodeling, Bathroom remodeling, and more. The sidebar on AB&K’s site contains a search bar that provides a quick and easy way to find remodeling projects based on keywords of interest. Also displayed in the sidebar are links to different remodeling project categories. These links help drive potential clients straight to examples of AB&K’s great work without forcing the user to scour every page. When you view a specific project, more detailed information about location and products used are added to the top of the sidebar. By putting those details in the sidebar, AB&K can take advantage of the bulk of your browser to show vibrant photos of their past remodeling projects.
North America Phase Converters (NAPCES) is one of the top manufacturers and distributors of high quality phase converters, located right out of New Berlin, Wisconsin. Their website displays a list of Product Category links in the sidebar, which lets potential customers get directly to the pages that let them spend money. This both saves their clients time as well as makes it easier for them to make a purchase. Further down the sidebar, NAPCES also uses the space to display certifications and quick advertisements for their warranties, best price guarantee, and support number. Just another example of using sidebars to help customers.
So with these three examples, you can start to see the useful and creative ways to take advantage of sidebars on your website. My next post in this series will start to look at the ways we can customize and maintain sidebars in a WordPress website. But until then, look at your website and find out if you’re using your sidebars to your best advantage. Then look at how your favorite websites use sidebars and share what you find in the comments below!