Friday, January 30, 2009

Blog layouts

I get a lot of mail from people asking me to have a look at their blog or link to them, something which I'm happy to do, if I find something interesting. But today I want to talk about a thought that struck me when reading We Fly Spitfires: Hey, finally a blog with a readable layout! So my apologies to the author if I'm not discussing his post on the success of WoW. It's a good post, presented on an excellent layout, and I'll talk about the layout here.

The majority of blogs people ask me to look at suffer from one or both of two fundamental flaws: Bad color scheme or bad use of space. I have to look at far too many blogs with tiny fonts, in dark grey on black background, or in some shrill colors that make my eyes hurt. And quite a lot of them seem to have been designed for a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, with a fixed width of about 600 pixels for the main text. If you watch that on a 1680 x 1050 wide screen monitor, you still get the main text 600 pixels wide in the middle, with the two sidebars now taking up 1080 pixels. And that 8 pt font which was still readable at 800 x 600 becomes far too small on that 1680 x 1050 screen where it only takes up the middle third of the space. I'm not a HTML guru, but I know you can either fix the sidebar width and let the middle part get wider at higher resolutions, or you can make all widths a percentage of the resolution, keeping always the same aspect. And you can make the font scale too!

So please, if you have a blog, try to look at it once on a high-resolution wide-screen monitor from 2 feet distance and check readability. If you want to get your ideas across, the first condition is that your visitors can actually read what you wrote. There is a lot of good advice on readability and layouting on the internet, if you want to do all the designing work yourself. But your blog hosting site probably offers a wide range of premade templates, and you could just choose one based on readability. Looking fancy is not always the first priority!

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