Please, Give Your Blog Sidebar A Break

Insane Blog SidebarIt’s completely insane what people put in their blog sidebar. Because I was trying to rack up a few Entrecard credits in the last several days and have started the massive advertising campaign, I’ve run across several blogs lately that are rather trashy looking. I’m sorry, I can only handle so many visual prompts on a web site or blog before I just click the little x in the top right corner and move on.

The trend is moving to less cluttered blogs, sidebars and somewhat less advertising as a whole and while there are exceptions, I’m seeing many less experienced affiliate marketers and bloggers stuffing their sidebar with every widget they can find. Not only does this irritate many readers because of the complete over stimulation and difficulty in finding links to recent articles (yes, real content), it also slows your blog down to a crawl. When readers have to wait 15 seconds for your scrollbars to become operational because all the frickin’ widgets have to load, they might be just like me and decide not to stick around.

How much information can any one human being absorb? Let’s take a look at one blog sidebar for an example. Now, I’m not going to name names here, but you might be able to figure it out if you are an Entrecard user and run across this one.

Starting with the right side bar moving down we have Translate This Page, Google Search, Spott Link Exchange, Entrecard widget, 12 blog directory badges, Blogroll Me, CBox widget, Blog Catalog widget, MyBlogLog widget and then as we cross over to the left side we move across Bidvertiser ads and come to a Technorati blog worth widget, a 160 x 600 Adsense tower, 2 RSS feed bookmarking widgets and finally 2 places to actually sign up for this blogs RSS feed.

That’s just too much stimulation and too many choices and it will have exactly the opposite effect the blog author is trying to create. But this is not one of the worst ones I have come across, there are many more with nearly twice as many widgets that can take up to 20 to 30 seconds to fully load on a good day. Others will add some sort of weather widget, ip address widget, current time widget (What is that one for? I have a watch, thanks), an Alexa widget, Yahoo Search Links widget, are you getting the picture, it just goes on and on.

Your sidebar is not a trash dump and I honestly don’t care who’s reading your blog or that Technorati says it is worth $50,000 which is a big fat lie, I want to see if you have some content worth reading, have a traffic generating trick I don’t know about or have a twist on some human interest story no one else has though of.

Please, take the vacuum cleaner to your sidebar, throw up 6 or so 125 x 125 ads that may interest me and let your content speak for itself. I just might be your second rss subscriber.


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19 Responses to “Please, Give Your Blog Sidebar A Break”

  1. I have to agree, some of these sidebars look like Christmas trees. There is another aspect to this, I have a capped bandwidth and these sites are costing me bandwidth to download all these bells and whistles that I will never even look at, let alone click on.

  2. Good point Arnold. I didn’t think of that aspect. A clean sidebar is beneficial in more ways than one.

  3. Nice tips as always. Thanks.


  4. That looks like a cluttered sidebar right in that pic there. I try not to clutter. Instead, people can put things (like MyBlogLog) in their footer.

  5. LOL. I can agree with you. I am constantly adding and removing widgets and all that. Especially if they slow my site down. Twitter has been slowing my site down lately I think. It’s ticking me off!

  6. Yeah i agree ..

    I am trying to stay in the number of ads, but all my sidebar really have is recent posts and i am listing about 30 of them, so it drags the sidebar down to fit 3 skyscrapers 😉

  7. Haha, great article Alan. I am sick of sidebars w/ the IP recording and mini-chat rooms…. My sidebar is getting a little bit crowded and this article really made me be more conscious of getting too carried away. Too many sidebar widgets will actually get visitors to click the RED “X”.

  8. Yes Andrew, you definitely don’t want your visitors leaving because they get turned off by your widgets.

  9. Hey Syed, you have a nice logo and a clean looking blog. You are on the right track.

  10. Come and be my subscriber for my clean sidebars 😀
    Love this post and wish that all those crazy noobies on widget-crack read it and “get it”!

  11. Widget-crack, love it! lol

  12. Thanks for pointing out the performance hit that all this “blog bing” causes.

  13. Doh, I meant “blog bling”

  14. Thank You! For a newbie, it can be so confusing I just want to scream somedays. You have a very good point and I will take this advice to heart. I have the opposite problem, I can’t seem to keep anything on my sidebar, it just disappears whenever it feels like it.

  15. Agreed. Another example of quality over quantity. I’ll keep this in mind with me new blog.

  16. I’m trying to keep mine as clean as possible. I also had just recently cleaned off the sidebar of one of my other blogs, it gives it a much more professional look.

  17. It’s funny, I just read this and the other day when I re-worked my site I not only removed all the 125×125 ads, but I removed mybloglog and blogcatalog, virtually everything except for entrecard and deal of the day (and deal of the day is about to get the boot too).

    The reason I did it was because my page has hanging when it loaded because mybloglog was too busy. I think I’m going to post about this too, because bloggers need to realize they should be concentrating on things that actually monetize, and things that help their visitors. Most of these “chiclets” and “widgets” have no actually value at all – they’re just fluff.

  18. I couldn’t agree more! I hate it websites have more content on their sidebar than the actual site!

  19. You’re so right, Alan! I quickly judge a blog for it’s appearance, and I won’t go back if it has so many things on the sidebar, and a lot of advertising. I know it’s said not to judge a book by it’s covers, but… I guess with blogs is the other way round.

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