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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Your Opinions on Blog Design, Please

I somehow fixed the problems from this morning. All is well, until I decide to go mess with the template again. I've been reading a lot of the articles on BloggingTips.com in order to try to optimize this blog's design. I moved the recent comments widget to the right, because I thought it made the blog look a bit crowded on the left. I don't think there's a good way to put that particular widget in, without making a blog look more cluttered. But I really like it and think it adds positively, so I am most likely going to keep it.

How is this new look? Is it cluttered? Did you prefer the previous two column arrangement? Are three columns too messy? Or did I just do them wrong? I want opinions, people! Let's see them in the comments! Yes, you. I will give extra considerations to suggestions from 1) people who are even halfway into web design (hello Laura), or 2) people who have gigantic blogs. Even if you are totally ambivalent and couldn't care less about this little blog's design, that is still an opinion that I'd like to hear.

For ease of soliciting opinions, I've added a poll. Feel free to explain yourself in the comments as well.

Here are my thoughts right now. Starting from most-likely-to-do to least-likely:

  • Adding a "Best of" list on the left sidebar. This was one of the tips from the Blogging Tips post 5 items my sidebar must have.

  • Maybe going away from such an angular look? Currently this blog's favorite angle is 90 degrees. This would just involve some GIFs to round out the corners, since I'm not much of a designer.

  • Replacing the current "Reruns and Leftovers" with a dropdown menu or otherwise smaller archives link. Does anyone ever click on these?

  • Going back to two columns?

Alright, well that wasn't such a big list. I thought there would be more. If you have any suggestions for a better reading experience, I want to know.

Related Posts:

11 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Laura

    What I like:
    -The third column allows you to fit more widgets, which lets us readers see more info at once. I don't think you should revert back to two columns.

    -I think collapsing the "Reruns and Leftovers" is a great idea. Frankly, when I venture outside Google Reader to visit your blog in person (so to speak), I'm probably going to want to see as many recent comments as will fit in my browser, so even moving your archives below the recent comments would be a plus to me.

    -A "best of" would be pretty cool. Are those automatically generated based on popularity, or do you pick them out?

    -I'm still considered to be halfway into web design even though I haven't made a web page in about two years! :-D Still hoping to get back into it one day when I have time (hah!) to blog.


    What I don't like:
    -Right column is much longer than the left column. Can you move some of those things (labels or links and readers) to the left?

    -The three columns are so close together; I think this is why it feels cluttered. Larger margins within the columns may also help. You of course are weighing this against how narrow you're willing for the center column to be, as well as limitations in the resolution your visitors may have. Maybe you're already at the best compromise, but I'd play around with those gaps if you haven't already. Even 10 pixels on each side could make a big difference. Rounded corners might also give the illusion of more space.

    -The subscribe section is, theoretically, only used once per reader. It needn't be at the top. I'm less interested in your site meter than the poll and your labeled posts, so those could be rearranged also. In fact, here's my priority:
            -Recent comments
            -Polls
            -Labels
            -Contributors
            -Links and readers
            -Subscribe
            -Sitemeter

  • Smockity Frocks

    I agree with Laura on this: "The three columns are so close together; I think this is why it feels cluttered."

    I like everything else, but then I change my blog around every full moon, more or less. Mostly more.

  • Smockity Frocks

    Oh, yeah, I meant to ask how you get the left margin in the main post section not to be smack dab against the left edge.

  • Ginny

    It feels cluttered to me. Overall, though, there doesn't seem much difference, other than more cluttered. Did I mention that it feels more cluttered?
    ;-)
    But, ultimately, it would have to be a whole lot worse to keep me from reading it. :-D

  • Alan

    Yours looks much better than mine. I need to do some of this stuff on my blog. In the beginning, I basically figured out how to do the bare bones essentials and stopped there. None of my posts are tagged / labeled -- probably a big mistake. I have a section on "past series" which is sort of the "best of..." but not exactly since some of the most popular pages are standalone articles. And I have to do a lot of hand-editing of HTML to get that like I want it... which explains why I have about three series that I have not added to the sidebar yet.

    Recent comments would be nice.

    I also wonder how many people actually examine the sidebar (mine is on the right). I should get Laura to critique my design, but I suspect it would be painful ;-)

  • Iris

    I like the "Recent Comments" on the sidebar - it's nice to do one less click to read what other people have said about your posts. =)

  • JunkMale

    Laura,

    I'll see what I can do about destroying the reruns section. I think I would hand-pick the "best of" entries. These would be posts that I think are representative of this blog. I'll move some things over to the left.
    Currently, the blog spans 1000 pixels. I like having a lot of space for the main body, and don't want the sidebars to be too small. I suppose I could squish it in pixel by pixel until it starts looking a bit less crowded.

    Connie,

    I have a post-body section in my CSS template. So this will be guesswork for your's. Try adjusting the margin attribute in your .post section. Under your Headings section is the Posts section. It's right after the h2.date-header. You can specify 4 sub-attributes in the margin attribute: top, right, bottom, then left margin.

    I'm not quite sure if that will work though. You could even try adding in a post-body section, like this:
    .post-body {
    border:1px dotted $borderColor;
    border-width:0 1px 1px;
    border-bottom-color:$mainBgColor;
    padding:7px 13px 1px 18px;}

    The important part there is the padding portion. You might not need to include any of the other stuff.

    Make sure to save your template before doing crazy things like this though.

    Thanks to everyone who has given input so far!

  • Thehotrod5

    I think it looks great! I love my blog at a 3 column, however I wish I could figure out how to put my "body content" in the middle column instead of the far left. I also really like the recent comments....I have admired them on Connies blog and now that I see them on yours I really like them too!


    Angela

  • Ewokgirl

    For what it's worth, I don't pay a lot of attention to people's layouts. I get annoyed by ads, but that's not an issue here. Honestly, I rarely look at people's sidebars, so if you have one or two doesn't make much difference to me.

    However, I will state that it seems a bit cluttered. I feel bad about saying that, but you asked!

  • Alan

    Ok you've convinced me to make some changes on my blog. In the process I learned a few things. Because I have what is known as a FTP blog (hosted on my own domain rather than on blogspot) I cannot use the new layout tools. So I had to scrounge around for some tools that do what I want. Anyway I think it's an improvement on what I had before.

  • Laura

    Junkmale,

    If you're still fiddling with things, you may find that varying the color of the columns (say, making either the center column or the two outer columns pale yellow, or maybe even using that color on the title bar) would make it feel less noisy. Tough to say, though, and I know that would complicate your rounded corners. :-\

    Just an idea. I do like the tweaks you've made.