What Do I Put In My Sidebars?

What Do I Put In My Sidebars

What Do I Put In My Sidebars?

Often times when I am working with clients, I am asked for suggestions about what to put in the sidebars.

I have compiled two lists. The first list is what I would consider to be the most important things. The second list depends largely on your specific blog and what you hope to accomplish with it.

Items from either of these lists could also go in a footer, if you are wondering what to put down there on the bottom of your page.

The Most Important Things

  • Mug Shot And Mini Bio – or - About The Author
  • Connect With Us – or – Social Icons
  • Subscribe
  • Search
  • Copyright Notice
  • Grab Button

Optional, But Useful Things

  • Our Family
  • Events
  • Giveaways
  • Topics (Tag or Category Cloud)
  • Graphic Category List
  • Archive Calendar
  • Permission To Pin
  • Places Around The Web
  • Blogging Friends
  • Reviews
  • We Recommend or Recommended Sites
  • Sponsors
  • Affiliates
  • Advertisers
  • Popular Posts
  • Recent Posts
  • Recent Comments
  • Archives
  • Terms & Conditions
  • I Also Write At – or – Find Us Elsewhere
  • Important Links
  • Linky Party Grab Buttons
  • Linky Party Buttons
  • Posts By Category
  • Blogrolls and Hops
  • Popular Pinterest Boards
  • Hot Topics
  • Helpful Links
  • PR/Disclosure Policy Link
  • Secondary Navigation Menu
  • Mini Contact Form

What Do You Have In Your Sidebars?

 

Ten Things You Can Do To Improve Your Site Today

Take a few moments and look at this list. Is there anything that you can do to improve your blog today?

  1. Spread out the content in your sidebars to create more white space.
  2. Check your widget codes for errors. If someone gives you a grab code or ad code for your site, PLEASE check it for accuracy BEFORE you put it up on your site. It can cause your site to crash (Widgets Can Kill Your Blog) or cause other weird formatting issues. This is a VERY common problem that we fix almost daily on blogs we work on.
  3. Delete extra themes that you are not using  (if you don’t know what to delete – ask for help, please!). Having inactive or out of date themes can create vulnerabilities for your site as well as slow it down.
  4. Delete unused plugins. Do not keep deactivated plugins for “someday”. Delete any plugins that you are not currently using as inactive or out of date plugins can create vulnerabilities for your site as well as slow it down.
  5. Set featured images for your posts. This can help for people who are sharing your posts on social media and for your Related Posts Thumbnails Plugin. You can also add titles and image tags to your images when you are uploading them, as this helps with your seo.
  6. Update your About page. You can also add a cute photo of you, with a mini bio, to your sidebar and use it to link to your About page.
  7. Make it easy for people to share your content. Do you have some kind of share plugin installed and in use?
  8. Make it easy for people to contact you.  We recommend a contact form that auto emails to you, as this protects your email address.
  9. Limit the posts on your front page to 3 full posts unless you have some other form of home page (such as 1 large post and 4 excerpts).
  10. Check the navigation of your site and see if there are any ways you can improve.

I am linking up with Top Ten Tuesday this week.

top ten tuesday

Preventing Widgets From Destroying Your Blog

This post was originally written by Honey Brown (me) and posted on Sunflower Schoolhouse in 2010. It has been reworked for Honeycomb Design Studio. 

Did you know that widgets can completely and utterly destroy your blog?

I am guessing that your answer was no. Well, neither did I. I had no idea that typing something into a widget and hitting save could render my site completely useless.

So there I was, adding some simple html code to my sidebar widgets and I get an error. A big white screen popped up (where my site should have been) and said that I had a “500 internal server error”. My husband restarted the server and everything was fine (or so we thought), so I went along my merry way. A few minutes later, it happens again. And I had a twinge of panic…

My husband logged in to the server to check things out. All our other sites were fine, except mine. He was able to access the server logs (like any good web administrator should be able to do) and discovered that I had some serious widget issues. Apparently, I had been entering some of my html code incorrectly into my widgets and WordPress does not like that. It freaked out and panicked.

WordPress widgets are very complicated and poorly organized. If you mess with one part of the widget code, you stand a good chance of loosing all of your widgets. That  is what happened when I placed HTML code into the text widget for WordPress. One tag was written wrong.

I have good news though.

Before this whole “500 internal server error” thing started happening, I had a few WordPress tabs open. After my husband had fixed the mess by removing the bad code (and thus all of my widgets) I was able to still see the original code through one of the dashboard tabs that had been open (thank you Opera for caching.)  I was able to go in there and copy and paste and save all of the codes to an Open Office document. This will help greatly in rebuilding.

The cause of the “500 internal server error” was the simple failure to close some of my html tags. W3 Schools html reference list is an excellent resource that my husband has pointed me to before and I will be visiting on an ongoing basis from now on.

Let me leave you with a few suggestions:

  • Might I suggest that you keep a list of your widgets with the code that should go with them (including the links) in an Open Office document (and print it out).
  • Might I also suggest a folder (on your computer) for the graphics that go with your sidebar widgets (properly labeled so you can find it).

Creating A Grab Code For Your Button

In this tutorial I will be walking you through creating your own grab code that can be put onto your sidebar. It is common to have a grab code under your button graphic so that visitors can place that same graphic onto their site. This code will link the button back to your site.

In order to prevent the stripping of code, the finished grab code will need to be put into a text widget.

We will be using the following code to get you started.

Step 1 – Get the URL to your Image

In order to link to a graphic, the image needs to be available somewhere on the internet. You would need to either use a <a href=”http://honeycombdesignstudio.com/2011/11/photo-hosting-services/”>photo hosting service</a> to place this graphic on-line or know the url of the image from your blog software before using the code.

The URL we will be using is:

[html]http://honeycombdesignstudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/button3.png[/html]

Step 2 – Add image URL to code

This code is best used in a text widget as it can be changed depending on what platform you are using to Blog online.

You will want to add your image url in between the quotations in  src=””.

 

Step 3 – Add site url to code

Next add your website URL in between the quotations in href=””.

It is best to always put http:// in front of the URL.

 

Step 4 – The Finished Code

After all the editing the code would look like this:

 

Sometimes the text area might not be big enough in which case you can add rows and cols to the code. Rows determines the height and Cols defines the width. For example:

The image below shows what size of textarea this creates:

You can change these numbers to fit your preference. Be aware this only effects how the textarea looks.

How To Create A Simple Blog Button

I am going to teach you a simple way to create a button for your blog.

1. First you need a photo.

  • Use your own photo.
  • Use a stock photo. Check out this list of stock photography resources to find a stock photo that will work for your purposes. Make sure you find a photo with terms of use that fit your purposes. If you are using a stock photo from somewhere you will need to right click it and save image to your computer.
2. After you have chosen your picture you need to open Picnik. The basic service is free. 
3. Click on the button that says “Get started now!”.
4. A screen will open that looks like this. 
5. You need to click on the button that says “Upload a photo”.
6. A box will open where you can select the photo (or jpg image) from your computer. 
7. Choose your photo and then click on the OPEN button.
8. The photo that you have chosen will open in Picnik. 
9. Click on the “Crop” button across the top.
10. Then a grid will appear on your photo.
11. Then you will set your “actual size” to 150×150 and check the “scale photo” box. 
12. Then move your grid around until you have the picture that you want. 
13. When you are happy, click “OK”.
14. Your graphic will be very tiny (like the following screenshot).
15. In the bottom right hand corner there is the option to zoom.
16. You will need to zoom in on your graphic in order to be able to finish working on it. 
17. Now you can adjust the exposure if needed. Simply click on the exposure button.
18. I generally adjust the exposure down slightly and the contrast up slightly, but whatever works for you. 
19. Click OK when you are finished adjusting the exposure. 
20. Now click on the “Create” button.
21. Now click on the “Effects” button. 
22. For today we are going to add Rounded Edges. When you choose that option from the list, the box will expand around it. The example you see below is the expanded box. We shouldn’t need to make any adjustments to the settings today, simply click “Apply”. 
23. You select the “Text” button.
24. Then a text box will appear on the left hand side of the screen.
25. Then you select your font. Choose whatever font you like, but remember that it has to be visible with the graphic at 100%. We used Impact.
26. Then you type your text in the box. 
 27. And then you click on the “Add” button.
28. This box pops up when you are working with the text. 
29. When you want to change the text color, you move this little white button around. 
30. When you want to change the size of the text you will slide this button from left to right.
31. To position your text you hover over the text box and then click and drag.
32. Now you will click on the “Save & Share” button.
33. Then this screen will pop up. 
34. Where is says “File Name” change this to the name you want.
35. Then click save photo. 
36. Then this box will pop up. 
37. I always save to the desktop and then move it to a different file later because Windows puts things in weird places if I don’t. 
38. Click the “Save” button.
39. Now Picnik will pop up and ask you if you are finished with this photo. 
40. Choose “Close Photo” and we are all finished. 
41. And there you have your finished button.
(Please note: This is NOT how I create buttons for my design clients, they are done in a special graphics program. I am including the tutorial here for all those times when you need a button faster than a designer can get one to you.)