New Design Today

Post by blogger | September 9, 2010      

Things were getting cramped, so I widened and brought your comments up so they’re equal to the daily blog post — which they are! Doing a wide 4-column blog design is a bit controversial and cutting edge, but I’ve been testing on different computers with different browsers and screens, and it actually works quite well for the vast majority of users.

Indeed, things like the iPad format this wider design quite nicely, and a large percentage of users now run screens that are super wide. We do have a mobile version that some mobile devices still pick up on, but some devices insist on just trying to re-format the regular design, which is problematic and something I’m working on. At any rate, let me know what you think!

Those with wider screens note the black background instead of white. With our vast worldwide readership that should save countless killowatt hours of electricity and easily provide carbon offsets for the big black WildSnow truck (grin).



39 Responses to “New Design Today”

  1. Griff September 9th, 2010 8:33 am

    Looks great here on a 17″ MacBook Pro running Safari 5.0.1/OSX10.5.8…

  2. Lou September 9th, 2010 8:41 am

    Griff, does the upper nav menu work for you? I totally changed the backend of that so I don’t know how it is with browser compatibility.

  3. Mike September 9th, 2010 9:00 am

    The right-hand column of ads is mostly cut off while using a netbook, which is fine since it isn’t content I want to see anyway.

  4. Lou September 9th, 2010 9:08 am

    Mike, yeah, I studied the stats and a small percentage of users have netbook small screens. It doesn’t seem to be an issue. Also, you can always zoom out using screen magnification options.

    Remember there is some user content over in that right hand column, the Twitter feed, Facebook badge, links, archives, etc.

  5. Jonathan Burhop September 9th, 2010 9:39 am

    I like it. Feels cleaner to me. Running great on Google Chrome and an iMac.

  6. Griff September 9th, 2010 9:40 am


    I went through the nav bar and all the drop down menus. Couple things:

    – Overall, the bar is a bit “nervous”. If you move slowly from the nav bar to a drop down menu, the menu will disappear. Move faster and it will hold. Not sure you can do anything about that. Probably a WordPress thing.

    – Under Bindings:
    – Fritschi: The main content area overlaps the Your Comments column.
    – Binding Museum: Essentially empty.

    – Under History:
    – Binding Museum: The main content area overlaps the Your Comments column.
    – Chronology: Appears to be in the old format. Left side ads and Your Comments columns missing.

    – Under Resources/Backcountry Skiing Web Cams:
    – The Colorado Hwys link is dead.

    – Replying to a post:
    – Just noticed this. If you expand the text box to the left, the text box will overlap the Your Comments column without wrapping properly.

    That’s all I found.

  7. Nick September 9th, 2010 9:57 am

    Looks great here at my work computer – and let’s just say, these are not exactly on the cutting edge of technology πŸ˜‰

  8. Tyler September 9th, 2010 10:52 am

    On Chrome with Ubunto Linux.

    Everything seems to work.

    First impression is that it got narrower and busier. The content got narrower and feels a tad cramped to me. The double column on the right is pretty busy especially as you scroll down and get into the lists. The number of sponsors and the third column feel on the busy side. Those are my first experience comments.

    You could consider the following to make the site cleaner:

    Personally, I dont use the links to Categories, Recent Posts, nor Comments contained in column 3 very often. Of course, I read comments but always go to the actual blog entry.

    You could save space and streamline by putting recent posts in a drop down menu (like in word’s recent docs). Categories could also be put in a drop down or leave it to a “search this site” tool.

    Thoughts anyhow, but it definitely works as is.

  9. RobinB September 9th, 2010 12:12 pm

    Don’t mind the new format.


  10. Dostie September 9th, 2010 12:31 pm

    Looks good. Like the four column format, but those ads on the right make it look pretty cluttered. πŸ™„ πŸ˜‰

    Notice that the pull down menus on top are awfully finnicky about where my mouse is when I pull it down. They disappear unless my cursor is lined up exactly with the left-side of the text. It needs to be more forgiving about cursor position.

  11. Lou September 9th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Griff and all, thanks! I’ll work on that stuff today! May have to go back to the old menu system, but if so no big deal.

  12. Lou September 9th, 2010 4:00 pm

    Dostie, look at some of the recent magazines with full page ads nearly every other page. Now that’s cluttered. Hear you about the menus, oh man, they might be hard to fix. But like I said before I can go back to the old ones.

  13. Lou September 9th, 2010 4:04 pm

    Griff, I don’t understand what you mean by “expand the text box to the left…”

  14. Lou September 9th, 2010 4:13 pm

    I think I might have gotten rid of the menu problem, but it screwed up the design a bit, looks like it’ll be easy to fix. Working on it.

  15. Griff September 9th, 2010 6:15 pm


    In Safari, most text boxes, like the Speak Your Mind one I am typing in right now, allow you to expand the pre-defined text area. There are 2 small diagonal lines in the lower right corner of the text box. Click and drag on those lines to expand the text box. The text in the box will automatically repaginate to fill the new size of the box. When I drag the lower right corner of the text box towards the Your Comments column, the text in the box overlaps the text in the Your Comments column.

    If you want to see what I mean, I’m only across town.

  16. Lou September 9th, 2010 7:34 pm

    Griff, that’s interesting that Safari does that. Pretty hard to design or trouble shoot for… I’ll see how the week goes and perhaps come over and take a look at it on your rig. But even then, that might be pretty tough to fix.

    Or, should I just disable that “feature?”

    Thanks, Lou

  17. Lou September 9th, 2010 7:42 pm

    Griff, regarding the chronology, that’s on an old template and actually not part of my wordpress blog. I have about 200 of such legacy pages. They’re a pain in the neck so I’m gradually converting them over, but the chrono has been tough because it works so much better in a wider format. But my goal is to have all top level menu pages be wrapped with the WordPress theme, so the chronology is next to get converted.

  18. Lou September 9th, 2010 7:51 pm

    My wife just tried it with newer version of Internet Exploder, and my far right column is getting pushed over and ending up down below everything, dang. But it’ll get fixed…

  19. Jason September 10th, 2010 7:24 am

    Looks fine in IE8 to me. Even shriking the screen no problems. Also fine in FireFox and Google Chrome.

    Much better wider for sure!

    Fall is in the air…

  20. Griff September 10th, 2010 7:52 am

    Disclaimer: I don’t know a thing about HTML or WordPress.

    That said, the linked article seems too indicate that you can set limits on the horizontal and vertical “travel” of the text box. How about setting the horizontal travel to “0” and the vertical travel to unlimited? I just tried resizing the text box vertically only and it worked fine. Everything below the text box neatly moved down or up, depending on the vertical size of the text box. Constraining the horizontal movement should prevent any overlap problems with the Your Comments column.

    This feature is kinda nice. When typing a long response, it allows you to expand the box to see more of what you have written without having to scroll. I, for one, find it useful. YMMV.

    I’m around most of next week…

  21. Lou September 10th, 2010 8:38 am

    Jason, thanks, that makes me feel better. I’ll still trouble shoot for my wife’s IE version but it’s probably not a big deal.

    Griff, good idea and I’ll see about implementing it ASAP.

  22. Dostie September 10th, 2010 8:38 am

    Just ribbin’ ya on the ads. Get more! Make more! πŸ˜‰

    I was gonna say the BCA ad was stretched, but it looks like you fixed that already.

    Like the black background. Still don’t like Arial.

  23. Eric Steig September 10th, 2010 9:14 am


    Just following up on the Hilleberg tent complaints I had, as I assume you are interested. The small tent where the zipper failed was the Kaitum 2. To be fair to Hilleberg, they say this tent is for those ‘more concerned with weight than strength’, so perhaps my complaint ought to be with my mountaineering student that ought to have known better than to bring it (we had helicopter support, so weight was *not* an issue). Nevertheless, that tent is not lighter than our Mt. Hardwear EV-2s that had no problems.

    The big tent was the Atlas, which Hilleberg describes as excelling “in exposed and/or above tree line terrain in the most extreme conditions, where its great static strength is capable of handling heavy snow loading.” Uh… NOT.

  24. Lou September 10th, 2010 11:11 am

    Eric, yes indeed, your input is gold so keep it coming!

  25. Ben September 10th, 2010 12:09 pm

    Lou, just noticed that the “Previous Entries” link at the bottom of the main page – the one that takes you to /page/2/ – does not work right. It takes you back to the main page rather than the previous entries. I haven’t clicked it for a while, so don’t know if this is related to the redesign or not.

  26. Lou September 10th, 2010 12:29 pm

    Hey Ben, good catch! I think that’s related to a software upgrade we did a few days ago. I do use that function on occasion but not every day. I’ll be trying to fix it today. Thanks, Lou

  27. Lou September 10th, 2010 2:08 pm

    Looks like the messed up page (older, newer posts) navigation is caused by my new design. Am fixing.

    Meanwhile I put the old design back up since people do use that function.

    We’ll see how it goes.

  28. Lou September 10th, 2010 5:48 pm

    New design back up, and check out the page navigation now! (At the bottom of the homepage…)

    Everyone, thanks so so much for your feedback. I guess I’m practically designing my own WordPress theme, though I’m too much of a hacker to ever take credit for it, and some of the real designers I know always tell me it looks ugly. But it works. More to come and I’ll keep fixing the little things.

    Can you guys believe we have about 1,827 blog posts here, and nearly all are original content? I can’t. Just crazy.

  29. Steve September 10th, 2010 6:27 pm

    Not crazy about the new design. But that is mostly personal preference. I don’t even like three column designs so four just blows my mind.

    From a practical perspective, if I have my bookmarks open (in FireFox 3.6.8), I have to scroll to the right to see half of the last column. The content is now less than half the width of the screen which I think diminishes it. And having a column of just comments when they all appear below the article seems redundant. It is just very busy.

    But that is pretty much all opinion. I would rather have great content than a design that is easy on the eyes. πŸ™‚

  30. Lou September 10th, 2010 7:14 pm

    Steve, your take is valid and I agree with much of itt. I think through some more design work we can make the content area better. For what it’s worth, it is not any narrower than the last design. Regarding the comments, they don’t appear below the post unless you have clicked into an individual post, so in that sense they’re not redundant, but I hear you. It seems a lot of people like to see the comment summary as they can so easily watch the ebb and flow of the comments if they drop in briefly. This is especially true when folks comment on older posts. Sometimes a post that’s quite old becomes relevant and gets a comment string going, and the only way you’ll know that’s happening is by looking at the comments summary column…

    Also, regarding clutter, I’ve been working on trying to tighten up the advertising a bit but it’s a slow process, mainly just gradually eliminating the lower paying ads. But as I’ve mentioned before, there is no way we could do this without the advertisers, year after year going on 6 years now! So we have to deal with things by playing with the design, and of course I have tto practice some restraint and not just keep jamming more and more ads in. It may not look like it, but I do turn down advertising to meet that goal.

  31. Nick September 10th, 2010 8:01 pm

    Really cramped feeling on a 13″ macbook pro running in chrome

  32. JD in SLC September 11th, 2010 9:08 am

    I always read wildsnow on my iPhone. The only glitch occurs when photos and captions get the right had side chopped off. It gets better flipping to landscape mode, but still a small portion is severed.
    Not enough to deter, just an FYI! Thanks for the stellar content and a good daily read!

  33. Lisa September 13th, 2010 4:39 am

    Works on my iPad, Droid, and IBM Thinkpad. Sure appreciate all your efforts to maintain your ad revenues which keep WildSnow afloat.

  34. Frame September 13th, 2010 6:43 am

    Vote in favour of the comments column. These are a big part of the website package and I use them regularly.

  35. Griff September 13th, 2010 3:27 pm

    Hey Lou,

    I went back over the nav bar. One thing remains:
    – Bindings/Binding Museum: Still doesn’t word wrap properly. The text is still overlapping the Comments column. Same thing with Binding Museum under History.

    That’s it. Everything else seems fine with the nav bar. I like the Comments column.

    Be well…

  36. Lou September 13th, 2010 6:29 pm

    By the way you guys, I might eventually be able to go back to three columns, by eliminating the left column. Depends on what different advertisers do… always working on it.

  37. Griff September 13th, 2010 6:44 pm

    I like your 3 column idea. My design sense tells me it would cut down on the “clutter” and provide a strong left-to-right reading flow. Advertisers should like it too as the natural English language reading flow would constantly lead the viewers eyes to their ads. Win-win.

  38. Lou September 13th, 2010 7:11 pm

    It’s gonna depend on who grabs the top spot in the upper right…

  39. Aaron November 23rd, 2010 9:52 am

    Lou, just wanted to give you a heads up that after updating my iPad to iOS 4.2 last night, no longer displays properly using its Safari web browser. The background is all black and the text is not visible, presumably because it’s also black.

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