Sidebar decluttering

A few days ago I came across a post at Problogger.net where Darren Rowse suggested bloggers should de clutter the sidebar of their blogs.

I looked at my sidebar and I saw what he meant by clutter. Darren could have used my sidebar as an example of a cluttered sidebar.

The sidebar was full of widgets that were not really useful to me or to my visitors. Here is what I had and removed:

  • Most popular Posts: I removed this because I didn't think it was really useful for my visitors. A lot of them come from a search engine and look for something specific. I don't think they are interested in what's popular on my blog, but I might be wrong about it and I might add it back in the future, maybe on the footer.
  • Tag cloud: this one was getting too big. I occupied too much space and the most popular tags were already the words in categories to it was kind of redundant. I might add this on a page of it's own
  • Top commentators: I removed this because it looks bad to see a list of top commentators where #1 has only 3 comments.
  • Technorati fave this blog: removed because I already have a technorati button at the bottom of each post
  • Google Referrals banners: The banners increased the load times and were not making money. I may add them back as links like this :
    because I see some potential in this but I'll have to get more traffic before I start using it again
  • Text link adds affiliate banner: In two months of using this I got about 80 clicks on it and no conversions. But the text link ads is reported to be one of the best affiliate program. They give you $25 for signing up an active publisher or advertiser
  • Reviewme banner: removed because I received no offer for a review since I started using it a few months ago. I guess no one wants me to review a patch :)
  • WordPress meta: does anyone care about this ?
  • DoFollow: This doesn't really have anything to do with the sidebar but I removed this plugin because it was pretty much useless. I don't think anyone that commented on my posts did it because of the dofollow plugin. The only ones that commented because of dofollow were those that commented on the post about dofollow. The idea to reward your commentators is good but if there isn't anyone ( or very few ) to reward the plugin is useless. Also I think the Top commentators plugin might be better for this.

Some thoughts about what I should do, but I'm not sure about this yet:

  • move archives and maybe categories in the footer
  • add most popular posts in the footer
  • remove google ads, I this I can afford losing about $2/month :)
  • remove kontera
  • create a top navigation bar and move the links to pages on that bar

What do you think I should do about the blog ? Any suggestions are welcome in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Sidebar decluttering

  1. Put back the “Top commentators” !!! I want my award !!! 😛
    A navigation bar would look ok I guess.
    The design is not really great, the logo doesn’t even have smooth edges, but anyway the main attraction in a blog is the content, I don’t really know how much a eye catching design counts.
    I think the content div should have also right padding, it looks like it’s suddenly cut.

  2. I’m not going to put back “top commentators” . This is your punishment for not commenting enough 😀
    I know I should change the design, I’m still using the default theme with very small modifications, but I’m not much of a designer and I don’t have much time to this. Maybe I’ll hire someone to do it.
    I can make the logo smooth but a patch is not really smooth. Using patches means living on the edge, and the edges are not smooth.
    The design counts too especially for first time visitors, and I might put some more time into this.

  3. Using patches means living on the edge, and the edges are not smooth. :))

    Geeks live on the edge too, using patches…

  4. Hi. Checked out your site from ProBlogger weekly article on declutter. I have a Most Popular Posts list on my sidebar that I recently included because of a site review that was done on another site that said the reviewer usually checked out the articles from the Most Popular Posts before she read any other articles. I check out my feedburner stats once a week to see what the top 5 most read posts were and those are the ones you will find on my Most Popular Posts list. The reviewer has this list on her site and she has a large number of subscribers after only a year of blogging, plus I like her site.

  5. The problem with big sidebars is not only that they’re cluttered, but they slow down your page load time! As reports show, most people close the page if it doesn’t display data in 5-7 seconds… So think twice before adding anything to your sidebars…

  6. I have a big, over monetized right sidebar, but only because I am still experimenting to see what works. As far as I’m concerned, my left sidebar is for navigation, and I’m not going to annoy my readers by putting any ads in it, but the right is for monetization, and is easily ignored for web savvy users who aren’t interested.

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