Lots of people redoing their site ask us about their sidebar: why is it there, and what should go in it? Though sidebars can be a bit puzzling at first, they are a great way to display important information about you—and fast.
In this post, I'll go over some of the basics on choosing a template with a sidebar and show real-life examples of Jimdo websites with sidebars that work well.
Is a sidebar right for your website?To start your template search, I recommend making a wish list of what you want your site to look like. That way, it's easier to pinpoint the right template when you see it.
For example, say I have my own online shop for selling photographs. Here’s my wish list. I want:
- My website to be completely black and white to match the style of my black and white photographs.
- My logo to go at the top left corner of every page of my site.
- A large photo on my homepage that will rotate my top selling photographs.
- A shop page that shows all my photographs for sale.
- A place to put my contact info and follow buttons for my social media channels.
- A contact page so current and potential customers can contact me.
- An About Page that has a picture of me and a brief explanation of my style and how I got into the business.
Now, that I have an idea of what I want out of my site, I’ll start looking for a template that can match my wish list. How do I do this? Focus on the features.
For more template tips, check out How to Pick the Perfect Template for Your Website.
If you’ve browsed through Jimdo’s template filter you might have noticed that some templates have similar features. One of these features is the sidebar.
The sidebar is your secondary content area. It usually looks like a narrow strip on the side of your website. The cool thing about the sidebar is that it shows up exactly the same on every page of your site. But what that also means is that, you guessed it...you only want to put things here that you want to show up on every page of website—like contact information, social media links, or any other “can’t miss” items.
The sidebar can show up on the left, right, or on the bottom of your site. Many people like to have a template where the sidebar is located on the bottom of the page so it serves as the footer. In this post, I’ll focus on templates with a sidebar that sticks true to it’s name and shows up on the right or left side of the template.
Why bother with a sidebar?
- It’s more noticeable. If your website is for a restaurant or shop, for example, this is a great place to put your hours, phone number, and address. People naturally gravitate to the sidebar for this kind of information, so you can make their lives easier by putting it right where they are expecting to see it.
- It saves you time. If you have any information you know you want visible on every page, put it in the sidebar. That way you don't have to reinvent the wheel on every web page you create.
- It creates a consistent look. It not only saves time to use the sidebar, it looks consistent. If you upload the same content manually on each page you might not get it the same position, with the same font size, or in the same order. Using the sidebar ensures it will look exactly the same on each page.
- It's a good tool for blogging. If you're blogging a lot, a sidebar is a great place to put a brief blurb about you, links to recent posts, a search bar, social media buttons, and even affiliate links.
Of course, a left/right sidebar won't be for everyone:
- Using a sidebar cuts down on the amount of space in your main content area. If you have a portfolio site or want to display full-width photos, it's better to pick a template with a sidebar on the bottom.
- If you don't think you need a sidebar anywhere on your website (on the side or on the bottom), choose a template with a bottom sidebar and just leave it empty. Note that the "leave it empty" approach only works with bottom sidebars. If you choose a template with a left/right sidebar and leave it empty, there will still be a big empty area on the side of your website.
Here are four examples of templates that have sidebars on the right:
Other templates with sidebars on the right or left include:
- Hong Kong
- St. Petersburg
- Cape Town
With many templates, you can choose whether your sidebar is on the right or left side by selecting the template variation you want in the Template Selector.
Real Jimdo websites with winning sidebarsWhat do successful sidebars look like on real websites? Here are examples of real Jimdo sites created with Dublin, Helsinki, San Francisco, and Amsterdam templates to give you some inspiration.
Why we love Dublin:
- The Dublin template has a navigation and sidebar grouped together. You can just use it as your navigation or include additional information below like your store’s hours or social media icons.
- It’s compact. If you don’t have a lot of text and images to fill your site, this template makes it easy to make your site look complete with just a few lines of text and one great image.
- Easy to build on. If you like the style but have a lot of content, that’s no problem too! You can easily add more elements like images, videos, and text.
- Perfect for a subtle logo: The logo on Dublin’s template goes at the top right corner of the site. This is a nice option if if you want it to be more subtly placed on your site, or don’t have one at all. (In which case, head over to 99designs and get one!)
Here are examples of sites that use the Dublin Template:
Why we love Helsinki:
- Helsinki is a classic template with everything you need for a business website.
- The navigation goes across the top and is easy to use.
- The logo and header area are prominently displayed at the top of the website and not off to the side.
- Helsinki's good looks shine through even if you don't have a lot of large photographs
- Helsinki is incredibly flexible, and even lets you put your sidebar on the bottom if you want to switch it up.
Here are examples of sites that use the Helsinki template:
Template: San Francisco
Why we love San Francisco:
- You can use a big, powerful background image.
- San Francisco has four colorful variations to choose from.
- With its strong structure, San Francisco can be a great template for blogging.
- The template is compact, so if you don’t have a lot of content to fill on your site it won’t look empty. But if you do, you can easily add more elements.
Here are examples of sites that use the San Francisco template:
Why we love Amsterdam:
- With it's subtle shadows, this template puts the focus on your main content area, while still providing the benefits of a sidebar on the right.
- The header allows for a nice display of your logo and title.
- Amsterdam is a great template for your business website. Keep the design and content in your sidebar simple and low-key so they don’t distract from the main content area.
- Amsterdam’s variation has a fixed navigation at the top that’s always visible as you scroll down the page.
Here are examples of sites that use the Amsterdam template:
Now that you know how sidebars can work, why not try one out on your own site? Once you've upgraded to a new template, we'd love for you to enter our contest and show off what you've built! If you have any other tips for using a sidebar, let us know in the comments below.
Content Marketing and PR at Jimdo
Melissa joined Jimdo in August 2014 to support social media, public relations, and the blog. She has experience in marketing ranging from event management to content marketing. When Melissa isn’t drafting a blog post, you can find her watching stand-up comedy, attending a concert, or rooting for the Oregon Ducks.