Chances are they aren’t going to stop reading to click on one of the links in your sidebar, nor should you want them to; but visually, that is the competition for focus we have created with this setup. Generally speaking, the goal of any blog is to get people to come by and read through the content on offer. Typically it’s promoting the brand, persons, or project behind the blog. Once we get readers engaged with our content, why would we want to divert their attention elsewhere?
This post stands to make the case to remove the sidebar altogether from the common blog design for a more aesthetically pleasing, directly focused design. Thereby allowing us to widen our main content area giving more room for large, readable type and big, clear images to engage our readers. As for the content that would normally be in the sidebar? We can easily place all of these things in a more relevant and useful place for the reader than directly competing with our content for their focus.
A search box is generally the first item you see in a side bar since, and with good reason. People tend to want it front and center. Giving users the ability to search your site for exactly what it is they’re looking for is a must and an expected element of usability that no site should be without. But that doesn’t mean that we have to load it into the sidebar.
Why not slyly slide the search box into the header of the site, or coupled with the main navigation? These approaches would make much more sense, after all what’s more front and center than that? And including it alongside the navigation fits ideally with allowing users to freely and easily surf and search your blog. Yet, we rarely see examples of this on the web. Instead, we keep the searches often pushed off to the side.
Presenting the reader with more relevant posts on your site is a great idea for keeping them engaged and on your site for longer periods of time. This is an idea that not many would argue against. But once again, why would we want to begin pitching our readers other featured posts while they are in the middle of one? Do we not trust in the power of our content to hold their attention throughout the post? And if we do trust in that power, why would we put anything alongside it to be ignored?