This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.



Thousands of Columns

I’ve noticed a trend lately that seems to be most prominent about “blogs” that get big. What would that be? Really crappy redesigns that add more crap to the page, and detract from the primary content. I could list a bunch of them, but instead I’ll just tick off some of the features that really annoy me. Now, many of these may just be me, and other folks may love it, but…

#1) “Click to read more”. Yeah yeah, you get another click and more page views, and you can fit more on your front page. But these really piss me off. I want to go to your front page, scan down for new things, and read any postings I am interested in. I shouldn’t have to go anywhere other than your front page unless I want to dig into your archives and find something old… or perhaps if I want to read the comments and discussion. But not to read the primary content. That just annoys me. But more and more places are using it more and more often. Too many to list. But I hate it everywhere. This is a big deterrent to me, but if the content is good it hasn’t yet stopped me from going to a site. But it is close. I don’t care if you right something long and I need to scroll a bit to read it… or to see the stuff below it. If I am coming to your site, it is because I like your content and want to read it. Don’t make it harder for me.

#2) More and more columns. People. No more than three columns. Come on. I’ve seen sites recently with four or more. You need one big one for your main comment. You need one for secondary navigation. (Primary should probably be up top.) And I can even buy a third one for an ad bar or some additional interesting feeds or something if there is a compelling reason. I’ve considered adding a right hand bar to this site for a few things I want to put there. But no matter what your main content column should be prominent and none of the other columns should distract from it. One of the big advantages to a blog is the clear and central chronological organization. There are several sites I go to that appear to be going for an old fashioned newspaper layout with several columns, all of which get new content through the day. Sometimes not always with the newest at the top. It makes my eyes hurt and confuses me. Stop. Talking Points Memo just did this. I think they are imitating Huffington Post. With HuffPost I just can’t stand going there the layout is so annoying, doesn’t matter if they have good content or not. TPM was one of my regular daily stops. It may not be any more. The main content column is now less than half the width. No. Just to give both sides of the political spectrum some time, Michelle Malkin did this recently too. Only three columns, but two of them are content columns. Lead story on the left, other stuff on the right. WTF? JUst give me one column with the new stuff on top please.

#3) Little side blocks with summary information about the post. Gawker just did this with all their sites. Instead of putting the little “Posted by bob at 5:15” thing at the bottom of each post, they are putting it at the side, thus creating huge blocks of wasted white space. This won’t stop me from going to engadget or lifehacker, but it is just stupid and annoying. It takes up more space this way. It wastes space. It makes the main content column narrower than it needs to be. Again, please put it back how it was.

#4) Too many links to yourself. There are places that in a post make some words links. For instance they mention President Bush or the Whitehouse or the iPhone or something. When I see links like that, I expect to be sent to the actual website of the thing being mentioned. Or perhaps a wikipedia entry or some such. If you link these words to a listing of your own posts that you tagged with that word it pisses me off. If such a thing is really useful to the post, have a feature with a list of tags that people can click on that is clearly marked as such. Don’t use inline links for this.

#5) Inline Ads: Yeah, yeah, I know, you want to make money and these are more effective that ads in the sidebar or whatever. But they are annoying as hell. Keep your content bar where your content bar goes. Keep the ads somewhere else.

OK, I could probably pick more things to rant about, but I need to finish up a few things and then get to work. So I’m done.