Blog Updates Tour Day 2 | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Blog Updates Tour Day 2

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blog Updates Tour Day 2

Yesterday I told you about some changes I made to the look of the blog and took you on a tour of the updated menu bar on the blog.  My goal is to make the blog feel less cluttered and to make it easier for you to find the organizing tips you need.

Today I'm taking you on a tour of my updated sidebar.  Hop on board and check it out :)

I don't know if you remember what my sidebar was like before, but to me it felt very cluttered and busy.  My goal when making changes was to simplify it and make it easier to find what you're looking for, without causing a visual distraction while reading posts.

Here are a few elements I took out of my sidebar completely:

  • Labels list.  I used to have a large labels list with links to all the posts with particular labels.  It took up a lot of space, especially as my list of labels expanded.  I decided with the project galleries in the menu and the search feature in the sidebar, the labels list was redundant, so out it went!

  • Pageviews counter.  Blogging is not all about numbers for me, and having that counter in my sidebar felt like an invitation to compare myself with other bloggers.  Not good.  Plus, I realized the number was inflated anyway, because it included spam views.  Gone!  More space for new features!

  • Affiliate links for ebooks.  When I created the Organizing Resources page I moved these links there, so now you can see even more great organizing books at once, and my sidebar has more free space. You'll still notice a few ads in the sidebar between sections.  I'm experimenting with the placement of ads so that they don't distract from the content of the blog and clutter up the sidebar too much, but I also want to be able to earn a bit of money from this blog to help cover the expenses of running it.  

In addition to removing some sections, I consolidated and simplified a few others to create more free space.  Then I added in a few elements that I've held back on before because the sidebar was so cluttered.

Here's what's in the sidebar now!

First up, I added some labels for each section.

The labels make it easy to see what's in each section so you can quickly find what you need.  I also updated my photo awhile back to a more professional looking one.  And I added a brief description about me so new readers can get a feel for who I am before clicking over to the About Me page. 

The next section of the sidebar is the one I was most excited about updating.

All the social media links and subscription options are grouped together and simplified.  Do you remember how I had a separate widget for each one before and they took up a lot of space on my sidebar?  I like this much better.  I was going to go for matching purple icons but I was recently referred by Amy Lynn Andrews to this post about the importance of using the official logos for each site, so I went with these ones instead.  I love how much space this little section cleared up on my sidebar!

And, in case the sidebar was too cluttered to see it before, I have a search bar so you can look up specific posts or tips.  The project galleries in the menu bar are great for browsing, but if you know what you're looking for, this is the quickest way to find it.

Next, freeing up space in the sidebar meant I could include this section:

This is a place I can showcase some of your favourite posts so you can easily find them when you want to refer back to something you read before.  It's also a great place for new readers to find ideas and get to know some of the kinds of posts I share.

The best part for me is that I can easily change which posts I show in this section because I created this widget using a project gallery in Inlinkz.  So I can change the posts to match the season or to highlight older posts that newer readers may have missed.  Love it!

Do you remember my old Archive list?  It was a long list showing each post title by month.  I personally liked that style when I needed to find or link back to a previous post, but I didn't like how it cluttered up the sidebar.

I've switched to this drop-down style Archive list.  If someone wants to go through older posts they can still do that using this menu, but it takes up much less space in the sidebar.  I love the simplified look of this section now!

And, once again, that freed-up space means I can add some new elements to the sidebar, including these!

I've been meaning to make some buttons for ages, but just couldn't bear the thought of crowding up my sidebar more than it already was.  With the simplified look now, I was able to add these buttons.

If you're a blogger or you have a website, you can use the code under each picture to add any of my buttons to your site.  I created different pictures that you can choose from to share your progress in getting organized.

If you're not sure how to "grab a button" {I know I wasn't when I first started blogging!}, here's a tutorial to help you do it.  Feel free to email me if you have any questions! 

I'm really happy with how these buttons turned out and can't wait to start seeing them on other blogs or websites! 

The last section of my sidebar is called Memberships.  

This section contains buttons for a few organizations and associations I belong to.  I had a few of these scattered throughout the sidebar before but I like that they're gathered together now {like with like right?!}.

So those are all the sections currently in my sidebar.  I'm sure I'll change it up from time to time, but this was a major update and I love how it looks now.  One section I may add is buttons from some of my favourite organizing blogs {many of them are in the Link Parties page though and I really just want to enjoy a less cluttered sidebar for awhile!}.

I hope these changes help you navigate your way around the blog easier to find the organizing help you need quicker!  Take some time to check out each of the sections of the sidebar so you are familiar with what's there and then refer back to the sections when you need to.

What do you think of the new blog layout and design?  I'd love to hear your feedback! Which part of the sidebar do you think you'll use the most? 

Happy organizing!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!