going in circles

There was something that always bothered me about the way my blog had been set up for the last year or so (main column in the center with two side bars on either side). At Mom 2.0 Summit, Kirtsy's Laurie Smithwick, a graphic designer herself, pointed out that she considered that particular set up lacking. As she put it, it defies all rules of hierarchy. She finally put into words what was bugging me. So, if you've visited within the last few days you may have caught me in the middle of messing with my blog template (still not done!).

Let me be clear. This isn't all to say that all blogs with side columns on either side of the center column should be redone immediately. I had it set up that way for a very long time. I just knew there was something about it that didn't quite sit well with me. No need to go running to change any of yours! Please! To each his own and I fully respect that. I just thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject.

Another thing, I am definitely not a programmer. What little I know is due to my IT guru husband (thank you nn!). So if you have any questions my answers may be limited at best.

The current version of the blog that you see today was achieved by following the layout shared here. At first, I followed the template instructions as they are shown. However, I realized that I didn't want my blog to be so wide so I changed some of the measurements.

For those of you that were around here at midnight and you caught me fiddling around, I apologize for the mess. You can now rest assured that your browser wasn't having cardiac arrest.


  1. hmm I've seen this blog layout more and more and I'm not sure I like it so much, I tend to ignore most of the right hand side because it just looks too much of a jumble - that's not a criticism by the way, I would be interested to know the theory behind it. for a symmetry freak like me this is a challenge lol!

  2. You bring up a good point. I am a symmetry freak myself so when I started seeing this it wasn't my cup of tea. Again, to semi-quote Laurie, the idea relates to how a painter guides the eye through a painting. In the same fashion we need to guide a reader to what's most important on our blog = reading left to right. Basically it's an issue of hierarchy.

    I also think that the right hand side of many sites look jumbled. The way I'm trying to work that out is to leave the left hand side column with only text and the right hand column with images. My hope is that it will prevent some of the visual clash between the side bars and the content bar.

    And you know what? You never know if tomorrow I'll change it again! ;)

  3. This looks wonderful! I've been wanting to change mine for the same reason. Of course, Nicole's (plovesb) blog, which is set up similarly, is utter inspiration. I've been afraid to tackle shifting my stuff around because I'm SO NOT programming-savvy and I'm afraid I'm going to botch the whole thing!

  4. I've had template issues for a while. I don't like cluttered sites, so I don't want mine to look cluttered, either. I like your new one!

  5. I like the changes you´ve made to your blog. Now the "clutter" issue on the right hand side columns? Maybe this is a crazy idea but what if we can choose to only have one? How would you prioritize what comes first? (if that even matters to you, I mean, don´t think that you must answer - it´s just me thinking out loud).

    Cheers from the south!

  6. Hey! I did it! Okay, that wasn't so bad. I still have lots of playing to do, but at least it's a start. I feel better already!

  7. Billy - I actually did have only one right hand column at one point but I wanted to give the two column option a try. We'll see if I keep it for good. And you're right, the problem with one side-column is the hierarchy of the information.

    Melissa - Wow! That was fast! Looks good. :)

  8. i wasn't suggesting yours was looking cluttered btw, it doesn't :D

    I suppose its just retraining the eye again, I have a degree in graphic design so understand the principles but we have got so used to blogs being linear and not reading from left to right it just requires getting used to. After all magazines and newspapers look like this and we don't even think about it.

    From a webdesign point of view html goes from left to right and usually fights the natural heirarchy which is why so many of us have left handed side bars. Getting a bar to behave itself on the right hand side is a pain!

    I'm waffling now but one thing's for sure its good to have a change every now and again (I'm always changing mine!). Good stuff!

  9. so interesting...I've noticed more blogs with this layout as well...I'm still on the fence..I don't have any words on the left side of mine. hmmm

  10. Looks nice this way. I can go either way really- as well as 2 columns. All the layouts have their merits. One thing I might suggest is to give your left column a little padding along the left edge because when the window is smaller than your blog width, your words are pushed up right to the edge of the window making it a bit difficult to read- just looks like it needs a 1/4" of white space.

  11. Well, look at that! I think it looks great. I rearranged my blog a few weeks ago to a similar format as well. I haven't heard many comments about it, but I'm enjoying it! I treat my blog like my furniture--sometimes ya just gotta rearrange!

  12. I like how your new layout looks, it is clean and fresh! Nice job!

  13. Well, I love it. And as an avid reader (and someone who loves to write) to me it is more intuitive to have the text on the left and not sandwiched between two columns. You read from left to right, and it only makes sense to do the same online.

    This, of course, from a nondesigner!

  14. I think the new layout looks great!

  15. Thanks everyone!

    Michelle - Thanks for the tip!

  16. I guess in the end it's really a matter of preference. I like to change things up and found I was always looking for ways to tweak my blog and in the beginning was frustrated. Now with so many wonderful tutorials and people sharing their knowledge it's made it possible for the html challenged to implement change.
    I also was always against the double sidebar on the same side because it seemed so cluttered and always thought that at least the double sidebar on each side helped solve that problem.
    Thanks for sharing the other info about left to right and heirarchy. Makes sense. I suppose we could analyze and critique all sorts of things when it comes to blog layout and design. Oh my!
    One thing I really like is that there is a top section over the sidebars that is the complete width of both. That makes it really nice in my opinion.
    You always present clean lines and a clutter free look. That's obvious in all your work.

  17. Thank you for sharing the template link. I'm just learning Dreamweaver/HTML/CSS and am excited to learn how to apply these things to a blog format. I just discovered you thru Two Straight Lines and am enjoying your posts.

  18. Hi, what a lovely blog! I'm from Italy..please come to see mine and if you want write a comment and keep me on your favourite list...

    thank you