Now the sidebar’s as tidy as a sock drawer . . .
Just like a basic sock drawer, I think that my sidebar is now organised and contains useful items. But it also has a little bit of bling to add interest for readers. Like all sock drawers, the items most used are on the top for easy access, whereas you need to dig a bit deeper to find the rest.
While attending to the usual holiday spring cleaning of my wardrobe and drawers at home, I became motivated to give the Sidebar of my blog a much needed overhaul as well.
Here’s how I reorganised it . . .
- Welcome message Voki - A voki is a ‘free’ speaking avatar. The voki takes a little extra time to load, but in my absence provides a welcome message to visitors. I recently changed its message and may use it in the future to highlight things in my blog. I sometimes use a voki to explain how to interact with a page (see Putting your Avatars to Work). My students really enjoy following the instructions of a voki on our wiki however I will need to re-evaluate whether its loading time is a problem.
- RSS Feed – To boost readership I added an RSS feed for visitors who want to subscribe to updates from my blog.
- Subscribe by Email – This widget was already provided by WordPress and allows visitors to subscribe to receive email updates when a new post is published.
- A Digital Clock from Widgetbox with date included and displaying my own local time was added for a little interest. I also added a ‘fun’ analogue clock to my wiki.
- Visitors map – I love to see the red dots accumulating on my Clustrmap . I only added it a month ago but the dots are growing steadily.
- Live Traffic Feed – I find it fascinating to see who has just visited the blog and how long ago, so I added a Live Traffic feed from Feedjit. I also liked the Flag Counter but decided to embed that on the wiki.
- Recent Posts – To easily locate the most current posts I included a list of the last 10 posts.
- Archives – A drop down box neatly hides and stores the archived blog posts listed by months.
- A list of Categories – Likewise a drop down box hides a list of categories for simple searching.
- Tags WP Cumulus - This interesting little widget sorts all posts under common tags and displays them in a cloud format. Just click on the tag you want, to find a list of posts on that topic. This also is a widget supplied by WordPress.
- Twitter updates – I love this handy little widget. It organizes all my Twitter links into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Just click on it and you can keep up with all the news. It also updates regularly to keep me in touch with the latest links from Twitter.
- Blogroll – This was my biggest challenge because it was such a mess. I have reassessed my list and organised a Blogroll which lists blogs I get inspiration from. I also added some useful Quick Links and some favourite Wikis and Websites.
- A Search Bar for Google Search is a handy tool to use without leaving the page.
- A Simple URL Shortener Widget for tweets – I’m still deciding whether to keep this or not.
- Meta – My links to Log in/out, admin, feed and WordPress links.
Will my Sidebar always look like this?
Just like a sock drawer often needs tidying, the sidebar may also need reorganisation. When some socks become old and worn, we replace them with new ones. Likewise some widgets may become superseded and replaced. If we take up tennis we need some smart new sporty socks. And as the blog evolves and embraces new things, it will be fun to look for new and exciting widgets to meet its needs.