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I have a site I am developing. The site has a lot of articles on the site's topic. Most article pages have the main content of the article then, to the right, a sidebar which contains new content that was recently added or updates, social links, a few internal links to important pages (IE: donation link, volunteer link, etc. the site is a non-profit) and related articles.

For some articles there is a sidebar of additional content which is an aside.

My question is what is the best way, from a UX point of view, for adding a second sidebar?

I do not want to stack the aside on top of the main sidebar as that could produce a very long sidebar.

  • The options I see are adding a sidebar to the left of the main content for the aside. But my concern is when the site is viewed on mobile you have a long page as the sidebars are underneath the content.
  • Adding a button at the top of the current sidebar that says Additional Information (or similar wording) and upon clicking it, the sidebar switches out for the aside side bar. Click the same button and the original sidebar shows again.
  • Same concept as above, but the aside is in an off canvas container that slides into view.

What is the best approach for multiple sidebars from a UX perspective?

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The content type will determine the best way. You say you're building the site for a nonprofit (I actually help NPOs for work!), and that the content is mostly articles. The most common way is to segregate the data into dates (article type as parent, month as child) and show only the last few months with a final "older" option. This also means having a separate webpage for looking at older overflow content, which is fine.

The alternative, which is more hip, is to have the relationship be tag-based. Article types as the parent, then tags for the children, organized by the top viewed tags (again with an overflow page). This has the added benefit of offering visitors more heavily-viewed content instead of just recent content.

However the goal is still dependent on the problem you're trying to solve. What content do you want your visitors to see most? If it's any and everything, then have one-level in the sidebar and search functions for everything (with anyone in a specific level filtering through that area or anything related). If there's a specific type of content you want to guide visitors to, then that's your guiding star.

  • I am actually doing both recent content and then articles that or trending or most viewed articles. But I am still left pondering, when an article as an aside, that would be a sidebar, what is the best way to show the aside information? – L84 May 26 '15 at 19:51

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