Why I’m Using a 3 Column Layout

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columns4.jpgThere are a few seemingly perpetual debates in web design. 800×600 vs 1024×768. Fixed vs fluid. Content on the right or left. The choice of using a 2 column layout or a 3 column one is another of these.

Advantages of a Two Column Layout

  • Forces minimalism. There tends to be less sidebar room in a 2 column layout. You simply don’t have the space for 100 different widgets without overstretching the page. This limit forces you to be a little more careful about choosing which widgets are installed.

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When Ajax Can Help Your Blog

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Magical ajax. Ajax is a great technology. It allows you to update various aspects of your page, without ever having to refresh.

The Trouble With Ajax

The trouble with Ajax is that it is overused and abused. Many people try to do too much with it. If you’re building a web-app, fantastic, use it all you like! If you’re just building a blog though, remember your restraint.

Good use of Ajax comes in small doses, and only when it helps you achieve your goals. Can it save you the hassle of reloading the same page? Will it let you accomplish simple tasks quickly? If so, then you’re using Ajax well.

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Separating Trackbacks from Comments

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Footsteps in the sand. Trackbacks are the messages displayed in the comments list whenever another blog links back to one of your posts. Many blogs disable trackbacks, but not all.

If you use trackbacks on your blog, it is best if they are not mixed with the comments. The comments are a conversation between between real people. Having machine-generated links in the middle of that will only serve to disrupt the conversations.

The method described here will lift out all of the trackbacks, and then display them as a numbered list after the list of comments is finished. Once you have this done, customizing the trackbacks to appear however you want them to is simple.

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Minimalist Blog Design

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The zen of minimalism. Minimalist blog design is all the rage these days. In the pursuit of usability and a better user experience, designers everywhere are stripping out the needless elements of their sites. The result? Clean, fast loading sites that a user can actually use.

As with any design trend, there are two questions you should ask yourself.

  1. Why should I adopt a minimalist design?
  2. How can I adopt a minimalist design?

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Design Review: Vikiworks

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vikiworks We’ve talked a fair bit about personal blog design this week. Conveniently I came across a fantastic personal blog yesterday, by Yichi from Beijing. The design of his blog, Vikiworks, is one that all personal bloggers could pick up tips from.

What Has Been Done Well?

  • Personal elements. The header and left hand side of the blog contain a wealth of information about Yichi, all wrapped up in the design. The PSP? Apple logo? Yankee’s hat? Even the date of his birthday! It all tells you a little more about who Yichi is, and what his interests are.

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What makes a blog look like a blog?

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Elements of blog design. Dominik Lenk recently asked an interesting question; What are the essential elements of a blog?

In reply I would say that there are very few essentials. It is your blog, and its up to you what you want to include. The only essentials would be to include the basics that you see on every blog, such as a search function, category lists and comment forms.

However, this did lead me onto another question. It is one thing to know the features that technically make a blog a blog, but what is it that makes a blog look like a blog?

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How To Style Author Comments Differently

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WordPress author comments. Comments are the backbone of a blog. For a blogger, there are few things better than a nice, long stream of comments. As a reader, flicking through such streams can be as enlightening as reading the post itself. It can also be useful to easily spot the author’s comments, to read what they in particular had to say.

As an example, here on Pro Blog Design, each of my own comments looks slightly different to the adjacent comments. Achieving the same effect on your blog is easily done.

The method described here is specifically for WordPress users. Movable Type users should refer to this article, and TypePad users to this one.

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