I’ve been actively blogging my brains out since about 2002. When I started, I had multiple web presences all over the place. Several on Blogger and several self-hosted installations of traditional ground-up HTML web sites I had built after leaving my corporate gig at the end of 2006.
In 2009, after Rope Swings & Avalanches, I was kinda tired. Especially at the thought of starting over again. And, I didn’t want to give up on my dream of doing what I love. So this time around, I wanted to focus on introducing more ease and grace into my own web presencing process and my next design.
I took all the expert blogging advice I had ever received (which was really good), threw it out the window and gave myself permission to consolidate everything under one web presence. I choose my name, not some business-ey name, like my original coaching web presence which was called Cognizance Coaching.
I had discovered that not only did people not know how to pronounce Cognizance, they didn’t really know what it meant, it was hard to remember and would put more search engine optimization “heavy” on me, the biz owner, in order to get discovered.
I had always had my name secured at Godaddy in my domain name repository. So I took the consolidation plunge, switched over to the god of all content management systems, WordPress and began using the Thesis theme; acknowledging that my name won’t likely change, even though what I do and what I call it will.
What does this have to do with the Custom Sidebar plugin?
Well, it’s a little bit of back story, to help you understand, why you may eventually need it yourself.
Right out the gate, I’m going to probably discourage you from doing this. Mostly because, you need to understand some basic web presencing terms like evergreen.
All the widgets and banner ads, etc. in your sidebar are considered evergreen because they are always on (displayed). Like in nature, those trees that stay green forever, even in winter. Also always on, will be your static pages that are available from the primary navigation bar of your web presence.
But just recently in the spring of 2011, I realized my two sidebars were increasingly cluttering up my web presence. Creating way too many options for you the web visitor to look at and decide which one to click on. Not good in the Usability world. Not good at all.
Remember, you always want to make it easier for your visitors to know what to do next. You want to guide them to the most important thing you need them to do… which is usually subscribe to a list (start watching as you move around on other blogs and you’ll see this call-to-action usually always near the tippy top of the web presence).
After that, it’s really up to you, the biz owner, to decide what’s most important. For me personally, I want to give visibility to my product offerings and then perhaps my “best of” article links.
Problem is, when you do many things in several categories like I do (astrology, life coaching and web presencing for women), one evergreen sidebar will not do.
I don’t want to be telling you about my astrology products when you are reading a how-to-guide tutorial on Setting Up Your Free GoDaddy Email Account, right? I’d rather be showing you my technology products instead.
So when you visit my website, you’ll notice as I continue with my redesign (live and unfettered by the possibility of showing you the imperfections that occur along the way) that my sidebars change as you navigate through the major categories of my site.
I’m doing that with a plugin called Custom Sidebars. And this post is really for those of you who have been blogging for a while and maybe going through a major overhaul to re-presence yourself; like several of my latest clients.
You’ll see from the link, the developer of the plugin does a great job at showing you some basics about using the plugin. And if you need some personal one-on-one help, you can always set up a WordPress consulting session with me and I’ll give you my expert feedback on whether or not I think you’re ready for it and help you get started using it.
I plan on doing some regular posts on the plugins I’m personally using and the ones I install in my custom wordpress web design package. Because generosity rocks and I love empowering you to use technology to help you do that thing you love.
Until next time,