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How Important Are Sidebars?

How-Important-Are-SidebarsWith the ever-changing trends on the Web every now and then, there is one thing that hasn’t changed ever since – and that’s the sidebar. It has had a long life ever since it came around since the early days of the Web. It has been researched that people generally stick to an F-shaped pattern while scanning through a page. This means that when they land on a page, they start viewing from the top-left and read across, and then scan the left side down the page. One question that arises here is whether the sidebar is still important and whether it is still here to stay.

What is the purpose of the sidebar?

Before we try to know whether the sidebar is here to stay or not, let us first understand why it was built. The main purpose of building a sidebar was to highlight some important elements that are not of primary importance but, are still important for the visitors. The main navigation of a page runs horizontally across the top of the page, and the sidebar acts as a secondary navigation. A sidebar prompts users to view content that they otherwise wouldn’t have paid attention to if it wasn’t significantly featured in the sidebar. However, it isn’t necessary that a sidebar is always placed only on the left of the page. It has different purposes and placements depending on the type of the site.

Left-hand sidebar

Considering that you have a horizontal menu bar across the top of the page where you have the most important navigational elements, the left-hand sidebar helps in featuring the second most important elements of your page or site because if everything is put into the top bar, it may get too cramped up. Taking into account the F-shaped pattern spoken of above, it confirms that users spend most of the time looking down the left side of a page. Thus, you must put some of the very important elements or links to other pages here. If you don’t have a top menu bar (just like Wikipedia), you can use your left-hand sidebar as your main navigation menu.

Right-hand sidebar

Once again, if we consider the F-shaped reading pattern, not much emphasis is given to the right side of a page. Thus, it is possible that the content in the right-hand sidebar is either missed or isn’t seen by as many users as the content in your left-hand sidebar. So, you needn’t put any of your important information in this menu. You can use this space to place any kind of ads that are of lesser value than ads elsewhere on the page. However, if you don’t have a top menu on your page, you may use the right-hand sidebar to feature the top headlines or any content related to the article on the page.

Dual sidebars

Dual sidebars means when you have both the left-hand and right-hand sidebars on a single page. This is lesser common because this means providing too much information to the users on a page, thus the risk of important information getting lost. In such a case, you need to know which content needs to be placed at the left, and which at the right side. However, if you have hired a renowned web design company to design your website, you can relax because they will handle your navigational elements in the most appropriate manner.

How important are sidebars in 2016?

Sidebars are relevant even today because they are user experience-centric and thus can remain a staple of Web design and enjoy a long life. It is a classic element that has been prevalent for decades and is going to do for a long time further too. Sidebars make it easier to navigate and reach different pages of the site having related or important content.

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