If you were part of a large group discussion and you turned to the person next to you in the hope of offering a comment that would add something to what was currently being discussed, your comment would be known as an ‘aside’. Asides are frequently used in conversation without the speakers actually knowing they are employing them. Well, it turns out you can use asides on your WordPress site.
An aside in WordPress is an extra nugget of information intended to complement the main body of content a user is currently reading. Information found in asides is not critical to the user’s understanding. It is generally not critical to the usability of the content either, but it might just be helpful enough that some readers would find it rather interesting.
Asides can be implemented by inserting code manually or downloading and installing a plugin. The plugin method is the method of choice among most WordPress users.
Ways of Displaying Asides
Asides can be displayed either in-line or as sidebar widgets. In-line asides appear right within the text they apply to. There are numerous plugins for deploying in-line asides as either static or expandable comments.
With a static aside, the text always appears in-line regardless of reader preferences. It is usually differentiated with coloured highlighting, italicized text, a border, or some other means of identifying it as being separate from the main body of the content. Site owners who do not want the free flow of text interrupted by static asides can implement them as expandable text.
An expandable aside appearing in-line would be seen as a link the reader would click to expand the text. Upon completing the aside, the user would click the link again to close the text back up. Asides deployed in a sidebar widget can also be static or expandable as well. It just depends on the preferences of the site owner.
Reasons for Using Asides
If you have never seen an aside embedded in a WordPress site, you are not alone. The aside tool is not one that gets a lot of use. Does that mean asides are a bad idea? Absolutely not. There are certain situations where an aside is the perfect tool to impart extra information to readers.
There are very good reasons for using asides:
- Citing references for a given portion of text without having to use outbound links or footers.
- Offering extra information that would appeal only to a small minority of readers.
- Offering otherwise hidden information that can be used for promotion and marketing purposes.
- Including footnotes, like printed books that use footnotes or margin notes.
It’s not every day WordPress users would need access to the aside. But it is a great tool to be aware of just in case you ever have reason to use it. Asides are yet another way to present information to readers in a way that is unique without being obtrusive or unattractive.