2 Or 3 Columns?

Steel White Table is getting a new look; however, I need some opinions on typical blog designs I’m considering:

  • Two-columns, similar to the look now except I’d use different colours. Most sites seems to have their navigation column on the left side. Why? See j-walkblog.com and binarybonsai.com for examples. Tall pictures at the top annoy me though; it’s a waste of space.
  • Three-columns, like www.darrenbarefoot.com. It allows for lots of tidbits along the side columns. I like this non-fixed column width site: www.yusop.net.

Both J-Walk’s and Barefoot’s use a fixed-width design, where their column widths don’t change if you resize the browser window. This gives the designer more control on how it’ll look, but I find it can be frustrating: I don’t like seeing the wasted screen space on the left and right, and it’s sometimes hard to read a lot of text within the main, middle column.

I’m leaning towards the two-column look.

The new look will debut when I get my new computer (to be described in a later post).

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9 Responses to 2 Or 3 Columns?

  1. Rebecca says:

    I prefer the three-column approach, but maybe because that’s what I use :) Of the two examples you posted, I like Darren’s better – it’s neater, and more contained. It also gives you the option of having a background colour/pattern/image separate from the container background.

  2. Jody says:

    I hate seeing the wasted screen space in fixed-width columns sites. HATE IT! I Barefoot’s site is too clean looking for an amateur like me. Phillip and I have agreed on a general layout. We’re now arguing about colour scheme.

  3. Keith says:

    You could fill the wasted screen space with naked women.

    I gotta go get my eats on. Later, dude!

  4. Darren says:

    While in principle I’d support a flexibile-width layout, there are two considerations. One, which you´ve already highlighted, is that it signficantly limits what a designer can do (or at least any designer I know). Two–there actually is an optimized line length for humans. It´s typically described as two and a half alphabets, or sometimes 80 characters. There´s plenty of studies to support this approach–it´s the reason books are formatted the way they are.

  5. Phillip says:

    I do like the short text lines of the narrow centre column design. Short lines make the text more readable, no doubt. However, it would make my regular long posts (which most people skip as soon as they see how long they are) even less likely to be read.

    Jody, perhaps you could create a button that switches between two modes of display, narrow and full screen. Give the regular visitors an option.

    But what will really win them over is a spectacular banner.

  6. Jody says:

    Users already have the option on non-fixed width sites: resize their browser.

  7. Phillp says:

    Right, like anyone’s going to do that. My button idea is gold. I don’t know why you don’t go with that.

  8. Jody says:

    *I* do it.

    I may implement your idea sometime.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Colour scheme – picking one is the job that always stops me before I start :)

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