Welcome to our weekly BlogAnon meeting where we confess a particular blogging sin and turn to you for support, suggestions and that blogging bond so we know we're not all alone. Don't be shy. Read along and let us know if you identify with us this week.
Typically, this would be the week for a Blogging Tip, rather than another BlogAnon meeting. But it seems I have maxed out my blogging learning capacity for the moment and don't have anything new to share today on that end. I get lazy with learning sometimes, despite the teacher in me. But I never seem to tire of opinions - thus another BlogAnon post for you.
As I was catching up with my Google Reader recently, I was reminded of how awesome blogs can be. They all look so different - reflecting the blogger's personality. Exuding their individuality. Even those technically challenged bloggers find a way to personalize the basic templates. I consider myself one of those folks. Some people change their blog's look often. Some never make a tweak. Others do so when they get bored or have something new to say. How you express yourself on your blog is more than just the words you write within your posts. It is in the layout you select, the visual pattern you display, the header image, the background, the font, the color scheme and the widgets that populate your sidebar.
When I visit someone's blog for the first time, I start at the top of their sidebar and scroll my way all the way to the bottom. I read their About Me blurb, see what kind of blog stats they promote, discover if they hand out blog love via the blog roll, peruse the awards they've been given, check out any links to their popular posts, browse through their Currently Reading shelves, find out what causes they support and always, always always let my eyes skip right over any ads getting in my way of learning about this blogger. Then I go and read the posts on the home page.
Once I've visited a blog and made my way through their sidebar, I rarely pay attention to it again on my return visits. Why is that? I think maybe because I put my blog blinders on and want to focus on the thoughts, the posts, the heart of the blog. Everything else is just filler. Filler that says a lot about the blogger's personality, but it becomes a personality I already know and enjoy - I don't need that refresher anymore.
That's why I try to keep our sidebar clutter to a minimum. I only put up over there to your right the things that I really care most about. The things that I hope each reader at some point will review once to get the gist. I have read that the top right spot - where most folks put the About Me widget/gadget/plugin - is the one spot that the reader's eye is drawn to on a regular basis, whether they go looking there on purpose or not. This would then lead me to believe that the farther down on the sidebar something lives, the less likely anyone will ever see it or interact with it.
I personally feel that anything coinciding with the eye level of the bottom of your lead post would also probably draw some incidental attention. But trying to gauge that consistently is a challenge. Especially for rambling Bumbles like me. Maybe my longer posts give some attention to those items farther down on the sidebar. I think they get a bit lonely and neglected down there.
From my standpoint, filling up your sidebar can be fun and expressive. Just don't count on lots of interaction with it.
What kind of sidebar do you prefer, as a visitor to a blog? Does the sidebar you have match your preference when visiting others? What kinds of things do you expect to see on a sidebar and what things do you wish would be banished from them altogether?