Retiring this Layout
I’ve been using this blog layout for some time now, and it’s comfortable. I’ve gotten some complaints about the green, but for the most part I ignore them. It’s true that this color doesn’t look good on some people’s monitors, but it looks good on my monitor, and I like it. However, the reasons to change my layout are starting to pile up, so I finally did a redesign, keeping the elements of this design that I like. The new design will go into effect next week.
Warning: what follows is an extended discussion of the current layout which you are likely to find extremely boring. I’m recording this to keep a record of my own thoughts about my layout more than anything else. If you’re too cool for or have no interest in such a geeky topic, then by all means, stop reading now.
For a lot of reasons, I’m going to miss this layout. There aren’t a ton of 3-column layouts out there, and I like the symmetry. I also like how at the top, the left side is a picture of China (each picture linked to its respective photo album), and the right side is a picture of me, and they fade into the Sinosplice logo, under which is the blog contents. Cheesey? Regardless, I like it.
Then, with the exception of the “menu buttons” at the top, the left column content is all basically blog-related. The right column content is mostly related to the rest of my site. Pretty clear organization, I think.
OK, now for the bad. There are a lot of reasons to ditch this layout. The main ones are:
1. This is a weblog, not the whole site. I want this page to be the “Sinosplice Weblog,” not “Sinosplice.” The name is unimportant, but the distinction is not. This weblog should not be the only significant content of the site. Thus, I will be adding more content to other areas (especially the Chinese language learning resources) and designing this page to be less of a “hub.”
2. Too many unnecessary images. Images increase load time. The menu buttons (including “Archives,” which also seems stylistically off-kilter) at top left are unnecessary. Even more unnecessary are the big loud buttons in the lower right. They just give the page a cluttered, busy feel. Plus a lot of the sites they promote have sort of gone by the wayside.
3. I want a wider main column. It seems like images are so often 500 pixels wide (notably: Flickr‘s images), but I can only do a little over 400 with the current layout. 500 pixels seems ideal. That means that if I want to keep the new design uncluttered, there can realistically only be one other column. I’m OK with that.
4. The description of the blog needs to go. Currently, it’s: “The goal of this site is to provide a window into China unsmeared by media fear-mongering, political agendas, or economic goals. I want people to see what I see, to know the China I know.” It sounds nice and all, but I think it’s a little too pretentious for my taste. Also, it makes my blog sort of sound like an alternate news source on China, which it’s not. At all. In the absence of any clear goal for the blog, I can just update that space with a short sentence or two covering what I’m doing in Shanghai now. All the wordy details can go on the about page (which will get a makeover of its own soon).
5. Google AdSense unfriendly. For about a year now, I’ve been experimenting with Google Ads. I still refuse to whore out my blog by plastering ads all over the front page, but I see nothing wrong with putting ads in the archives to earn a little revenue from the visitors that come in through Google. Unfortunately, the current column widths make it hard to place ads effectively and attractively.
So there you have the basic reasons I’ll be retiring this layout. Next week you can see what I’ve devised to replace it. The change will not be too drastic.