I took a two-week break from posting on my own blog a few months ago. In that time, I was refueled with post ideas but I also had the opportunity to read most of yours. In that process, I realized something I hadn’t paid much attention to before. I didn’t pay much attention to it because that’s just how ingrained these things are in our lives today. The Cell Phone. During my observation, I realized that I read most of your blog posts (90%) from my phone. In fact, I observed that the only time I read blog posts from my laptop / desktop, is when I am logged in to draft a post that I can’t draft on my phone.
The number of mobile-only users has recently surpassed the number of desktop-only users. According to an article in Marketing Land, “Mobile now represents 65 percent of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a “secondary touch point” for an increasing number of digital users.” While desktop-only usage isn’t showing signs of retreat, most people are browsing the net using their smart-phones.
According to a guest post contributed by Allison Maruska on A Writers Path, FIVE REASONS I STOP READING YOUR BLOG POST, blogs that aren’t mobile friendly came up 2nd:
Reason 2: Not mobile friendly
“Like the majority of blog readers, I do most of my blog reading on my phone. If a post isn’t mobile friendly, meaning it has a special “version” for mobile devices, the text appears in about 0.6 pt. So if I want to read the content, I have to zoom and slide the screen around, which I’m unlikely to stick with for long. Creating more work for the potential reader is almost a guaranteed way to lose the reader.”
What does this have to do with your sidebar though? Sidebars on blogs that are not mobile friendly cannot be seen depending on the layout of your theme. No, this is not a poem, stay with me. Not only can potential readers not see the sidebar on most blogs that aren’t mobile friendly, but even blogs that are mobile friendly require the reader to do a lot of zooming in and moving around. Additionally, most follow buttons on blogs with sidebars aren’t seen on mobile devices (again, depending on the theme that you have).
I tested this theory out on some of your blogs. Was it yours? Don’t ask me to clarify; I follow quite a few of you. I’ve found, while using my smart-phone that switching to “Full Site” mode helped to make your sidebars visible. It also helped me to find your Follow Buttons. Yes, many of your blogs follow buttons did not show up on your blogs using my mobile because they are on the sidebar, which I could only see by switching to full site mode.
Should you X the sidebar? That depends a lot on the layout of your theme, but if most of you are reading this post on your mobile devices, a sidebar may not be necessary. If you have sidebars however, there are things you can do to make sure readers are tuned in:
Mobile Friendly – If you’re using a free WordPress theme, make sure your blog is mobile friendly. This means that when people click to read your article on their phone, the screen will automatically adjust the content so it’s easily readable for them.
Check – Check to make sure that everything looks good on your mobile and on desktop. Don’t just have it set to mobile friendly, make sure it’s actually showing up. It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t leave any stones unturned. While checking your mobile, also check your desktop and if you’re really into it, your tablet. A good layout will automatically adjust to any device. I tend to go back and forth A LOT when switching blog themes to make sure my blog is easy to read no matter what device is being used.
No Sidebar – Seriously consider opting for a theme without a sidebar. One of my dilemmas when making this decision was whether or not my subscriber button would be visible. I was also concerned about the other important elements of sidebar themes such as the pages. I really like for my pages to be visible. However, I found that not only are there themes where pages are visible without the sidebar, but if the bulk of your readers are coming from mobile and tablet devices anyway, the website will already be formatted into a menu. There, you’ll find all of your sidebar elements including pages. Your readers really can’t miss it.
Slide-Side Bar – If you are still skeptical of trading in your sidebar, like I was, consider a theme with a slide-side bar. This is something you’ll see on my blog. It gives the blog a really fresh, clean look without completely doing away with the sidebar. Instead, everything can be found under the three bars on the side. This also looks good on mobile devices. In fact, this looks really good on mobile devices!
If you remember nothing else, remember this: Blogs that grow are blogs that are easy to find, follow, and navigate. If you make it easier for people to find and interact with your blog, they’ll stick around a little bit longer.