Designs with a sidebar have been around for many years and are almost a staple in most website designs. Although some people have gotten away from sidebars in recent years, likely due to the increase in mobile website browsing, this feature is likely to stay with us into the far future. However, once you’ve completed the initial design, it is easy to forget about that space to the side of your page.
After all, it is just kind of a holder for specials, navigation and newsletter signups. However, if you’re looking to increase your overall conversions, you must look at every aspect of your website.
There are some specific things you can do to improve conversions through your sidebar and take advantage of that space.
Typography can impact your conversion rate. There are many factors that go into how well text works for your site. Not only do you have to consider what size font to use, but choose a weight and a style that the reader will be able to view clearly on different screen sizes. The main thing you need to consider with your text is how easy it is to read. Readers will not stay and struggle through reading difficult type.
One example of a site with beautiful and effective type in the sidebar is Ulta. This online beauty retailer uses a very simple but bold font that is easy to read. They use it simply as navigation to their products, so that site visitors to can find what they want quickly and easily. This is a very effective way to funnel site visitors toward making a purchase. There aren’t images and videos and other elements to distract the consumer.
Don’t try to do too many things with your sidebar. Really think through your conversion goals. Do you want site visitors to sign up for your newsletter? Then, that is where your sidebar focus should be.
Some sites try to do way too much on the side, even including games and links to other places. It is better to create a narrow focus for your site visitors and not give them too many different options.
Copyblogger’s blog is an excellent example of honing down the choices so the site visitor doesn’t grow confused. They still have some navigation in faded text at the bottom, but up at the top and easy to spot is the option to “get free training.” This allows the site to convert visitors to subscribers and collect contact information. Signup is the main focus of the sidebar.
Where you place your most important content within the sidebar can also have a big impact. Not everyone will take the time to scroll to the bottom of your page, so it only makes sense to put the most important items above the fold. This means that the minute the consumer lands on your page, she sees the important items near the top.
Quinn Company does a very effective job of placing their call to action (CTA) at the very top of their sidebar. It simply says “Contact Us Today” in bold text. It’s a great way to convert visitors to customers, because they are then taken to a page where they can message the company, phone, or find a location or sales rep – simple and focused.
There is a psychology to color choice, and you can utilize different colors in your sidebar to convince visitors to click on a link. Some colors are more attractive than others to different genders and ages, but you also must consider how the color works with the other colors around it. Is it bold enough to draw the eye?
One example of a site that uses color effectively is Duluth Trading Company. This clothing online retailer uses a very simple, but bold font that is easy to read. Then, they use pops of color to draw the eye. For example, the word Duluth is in red and a red bar rotates through the different choices for clothing. The simple, black, white, and light gray of the rest of the sidebar design really makes the red pop. The colors work well together as an effective sales funnel.
The call to action (CTA) in your sidebar can have a huge impact on site conversions. Even whether you use first or second person can have an impact. For example, ContentVerve conducted an A/B study where they used first person phrasing and increased their click-through rate by 90%.
Crazy Egg is a good example of using first person CTAs, and you’ll find their CTA button right near the top of the sidebar. They have a signup box for their newsletter, so their goal is to convert site visitors into subscribers, which allows Crazy Egg to contact the visitor directly in future. They then use the phrasing “Keep Me Informed.”
By using first person, they drive more conversions than if they did not. The sign up form is also super simple, just requiring a quick email address and click of a button.
Improving conversions is an ongoing task that requires you to look at every single aspect of your site. From the main content on the page to the sidebar and how everything is placed in it. Paying attention to even the little details can have a huge impact on your overall conversion rate.