Read Part 1: Tablet Centric, Part 2: Shrunken Heads, and Part 3: Spacing

We have previously looked at how the new USAToday design is leading the way in web design, much as it revolutionized newspaper design in the 80s.  In today’s post, we’ll look at their use of 2 sidebars and whether that is a good fit for small business web design.

The left sidebar stays static, no matter the browser size.  The right sidebar collapses when the browser width is reduced to a little “Right Now” arrow.

That right sidebar is reminiscent of Facebook’s scrolling latest posts and chat bar which disappears completely on narrow browsers.

A couple of things that jump out at me regarding how these could be used on a small biz website.  The left sidebar would be a great place for contact info.  If the header is reduced like it is with USAToday, then you don’t have room for contact info.  But you still want visitors to be able to get to a phone number or email address very quickly.  By providing that info in the left sidebar at all times, the visitor will be likely to pick up the phone and call, which is what many small businesses want to see happen.  Social media icons, thumbnail which leads to an interactive map, and various short CTAs come to mind as good options for that narrow space as well.

The right sidebar could be used much like it is right now.  Many small businesses use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn regularly and want to be able to show site visitors latest Tweets and Posts easily.  Showing that active use will make becoming a fan of the biz on social media more attractive.

BUT.  There is a “but” here.  Small businesses do use wider sidebars prominently and with good effect.  So ditching the big sidebar with prominent CTAs, recent posts, contact forms, etc. is problematic.  I don’t see the regular right-side sidebar going away too quickly.  The static mini-left-side sidebar and “Right Now” sidebar widget seem like good ideas that small biz’s will adopt, but I see them as additions to, not replacements of, the main sidebar on wider browser sizes.

Next up: Logos. Stay tuned . . .

[sam id=”1″ codes=”true”]