Last week you saw how important it was to include a header and a content area in your website. This week, I'll be explaining a little more about the importance of sidebars and footers in web design.
A sidebar is more of an optional extra than an essential element, in all fairness. Though they are most popularly used as part of blog designs, sidebars can be used reasonably on all modern web pages. In blogs, having a sidebar makes navigation a much easier task. You can also include extra widgets, such as a search box, Twitter or Facebook feed and so much more. In a blog, it's also common to display the most popular posts or any extra links that might not be in your header navigation.
The footer is generally seen as a less important section of a page. However, don't let this fool you. Your footer is something that you can use to your advantage - all the information that somehow doesn't fit into your page will almost always work its way into this magical spot. If, for example, you don't have a sidebar, some elements that you would have included there could be present in your footer. You have a whole host of options, including a search box, mini contact form, links to other pages, any social media links and any accreditations.
One thing that is often overlooked, but which is one of the most important elements of a site, is to set out a detailed copyright statement. Although all original work created is automatically copyrighted to you, the copyright information in your footer clearly states this helping, however marginally, to protect your work further from those that would try to claim it as their own.
So there you have it - what I deem to be essential to any website. This list isn't foolproof by any means - there may be things you want to add in or take away. Next week I'll be presenting a round-up to end the series, including examples and best practices for each element.
In the meantime, what do you see as your essential elements to any website?