Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 5 June 2005

New 3-column blog layout

I have been thinking for several weeks (in fact for a lot longer, in an inchoate way) about whether it would be a good idea to convert my blog from a 2-column display to a 3-column display and, now that (I hope!) the first version has been coded correctly, have decided to go ahead and launch it in the hope that any defects will show up in the next day or so.

The 2-column display bascially used the original format I took from the basic blogger template I decided to use when I first started this blog over three years ago, although since then I have very considerably altered the template coding to a colour scheme and font style which I found more pleasing, as well as adding all sorts of 'bells and whistles'. This used the then-common format of having the main blog panel as the left-hand column, with the right-hand column being reserved for various links (blogrolls, etc).

However, a lot of more recent template designs have reversed this, with the 'links' column being on the left and the main blog panel on the right.

Some blog template designers have gone further and used a 3-column display format, with external links in the left-hand column, the large middle panel reserved for the blog posts, and the right-hand column reserved for (in the main) internal links or other sundry uses. This is the model I have now decided to follow. It has taken some considerable re-coding effort to modify the template to achieve the 'look' I want. At this stage I have not changed the basic colour scheme or font sizes in any way as I want to be sure the new format is fully debugged before I make further changes in due course.

Part of the 'fun' of having a blog, so far as I am concerned, is to use it as a method of increasing my knowledge of web design and HTML coding; I hope also to have a blog page that is reasonably pleasing to look at (whatever some people may think of the content of various of the things I write in my posts) and that, crucially, the typefaces used in various parts of the blog are clear and easy to read. I do try and make sure of this before I launch changes, by conducting 'test runs' on a parallel blog I use solely for this purpose (but make no effort to publicise as it contain no meaningful posts, simply test messages), but unfortunately blogs sometimes display differently on different web browsers. This is why I will be particularly grateful if you can let me know if you experience any difficulty over the next few days when loading my blog. Is it legible? Does the formatting seem to be functioning normally? Are there particular problems you experience when viewing my blog on your own web browser?

My aim in making the change was to make the links to other blogs, the internal links and various other kinds of links and sundry items more readily viewable without having to scroll down an interminably long single links column on the right-hand side - even I was beginning to find it difficult to navigate as I have gradually added more and more links.

Apart from the 'technical' aspects to do with viewing and reading my blog, I am of course interested to know whether you have any comments of a more general nature about the new format. Good or bad, I will be grateful to learn what you think.

PS/ Already I have noticed a few drawbacks myself. Obviously the main blog panel is somewhat narrower in the 3-column display than it was in the 2-column display so the posts themselves occupy a greater space vertically; once one scrolls down past the links in the left- and right-hand columns, the middle panel still has a long way to run on the main or archive pages with a lot of empty space on one or other side. Also the narrower middle panel means that the width of any image/photograph I can include in a post will really have to become a little less, if it is not to distort the blog layout - I have noticed that in some of the archive pages the width of photographs has caused part of the middle panel and/or the right-hand column to scroll off to the right of the screen on my display. I will need to think about the implications of these factors, apart from any faults you may identify, when deciding whether to keep this new format or whether to revert to the 2-column display format.

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