When I returned to writing on the Blogger platform, I found the online presentation of my content too busy and distracting. Up to then, I had always used some variant of the conventional two-column blog layout. This was a primary column containing the posts with a sidebar column of ancillary information, navigation, and outbound links. I adopted that fundamental layout structure on the first day of this site. Over the years I had updated and adjusted the types of content displayed in both the sidebar, and in what became a deep footer. But I had never taken a top level review of what I should include and what I should remove. Were the sidebar functions in any way helpful, or were they distracting from my primary content?
I read all my blog subscriptions within the Reeder RSS aggregator app. This imposes one standard visual treatment on to all blogs. So I had become unfamiliar with the design layout of the HTML versions of the blogs I read regularly. I did some ad-hoc research to see what was working well.
|Gemmell follows his own design principles in the layout of his blog.|
|Jeffery Zeldman’s layout seems perfectly optimised for reading on a tablet.|
|Although John Gruber still uses a sidebar.|
Having decided to simplify the design of my blog to deliver some of the positive features I observed in the clarity of my book layout, I was fortunate to then read this wonderful post by Matt Gemmell: ‘Designing blogs for readers.’ (I recommend you read his whole article.) He advocates a merciless editing of blog layouts to focus on legibility and content. I found that, whether consciously or otherwise, many of the writers I admire had adopted many of his recommendations in the presentation of their material. Gemmell’s arguments convinced me to go much much farther in redesigning this site than I had considered. These images of my previous blog layouts illustrate how much I have changed this site’s design over time.
|How this blog looked way way back in 2006. Jiminiy!|
|Still very busy in 2010 presenting too many distracting links.|
|This was the last layout I used before introducing the new clarified treatment.|
In the end, I removed everything from both the secondary sidebar and the deep footer this time. I changed the harsh white background to a soft creamy white and replaced all of the san-serif typefaces with a serif faces typeset at a larger size. One significant outcome of this new design is that this site is now far more tablet-friendly.
The new reconsidered layout brings my content to the fore and optimises for attentive reading. By reducing distractions and providing some necessary stillness, I hope that I have improved your engagement with my writing.
|Quite meta I know, but here is a screen-shot of this post in the new layout.|