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The New 3-Column Copyblogger Design

In early May 2007, I redesigned Copyblogger, which was previously the home of my most popular design to date. The old layout was simple, featuring copious amounts of whitespace coupled with understated details. Problem was, Brian started receiving advertising requests, and the old template simply wasn’t able to accommodate the necessary ad positions in addition to keeping the blog’s subscription options at the forefront.

new Copyblogger design

Oh, and based on all the things I’d learned since the last Copyblogger update, I knew there was an opportunity to improve Brian’s in-site SEO, too.

Enter the new design, which I think features a highly-effective organization of key pieces of information. For instance:

  • Primary navigation resides in the upper left, which is some of the most premium real estate on the page.
  • Subscriptions fuel the site, and the subscription options are placed above the fold on the left along with custom icon embellishments that serve to draw the user’s attention to that area.
  • Advertisers receive prominent placement on the right—this wasn’t going to be possible on the old design without sacrificing the subscription options.

Although I don’t think Brian really wanted to change his design, he certainly saw plenty of reasons why he ought to go ahead and do it. With 18,000+ subscribers, he had reached a point where the site had outgrown its current confines, and by making the switch to a newer, smarter layout, he has already expanded the site and positioned it for future growth.

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32 comments… read them below or add one

Andrew Mitry June 1, 2007

Are you planning to release this new design to the public?

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Brian Clark June 1, 2007

It’s not his to release. :)

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Roberta June 1, 2007

I personally like the theme for this site better. Not to say that the copyblogger site isn’t as good, but I like where you hover over the sidebars and it highlights in the same color as the header. Pretty nifty.

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Bruce June 1, 2007

All of your designs are great, Chris. I am using someone else’s three column design right now but am seriously considering going back to your recently-released Copyblogger (two column) design. It is one of the most readable designs I have ever seen.

Question for you: do you think it matters to the readers, or from a monetization standpoint, as to whether the sidebar is on the right or left. I did your two-line customization to turn your right sidebar design into a left sidebar design, but I personally am torn between which is best (readability, which is the primary concern, and monetization, the second concern). I’m guessing that the right sidebar wins for readability while the left would win for monetization … ?

Thanks.

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Robert Bruce June 1, 2007

Good for business, good for Clark. Long live Copyblogger.

I like it.

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David Airey :: Creative Design :: June 1, 2007

I’ve been a fan of your design since I began blogging last year.

For me, this is another very reader-friendly result, keeping in line with Brian’s branding.

Good job, Chris.

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Bruce June 2, 2007

Just re-read your bio and noticed that you are also a graduate of Georgia Tech. I received my BSEE and MSEE there sometime back (mid 70’s), actually before you born.

But, I still have many fond memories of Tech. A lot of hard work but wonderful, wonderful people and a campus I loved. Every miss the Varsity? I still live in the area, so I can go there from time to time, but the traffic sure is worse than it was 30 years ago.

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Chris P. June 2, 2007

Bruce — Getting around campus is especially rough now that the 14th Street area is getting so built up as you move west away from the connector.

The last time I was in town was April of 2004, and the 17th Street bridge had just been completed. Atlantic Station had not yet opened, but it was obvious that the area was in the middle of a construction boom that will define Midtown in the years to come.

While I can’t say that I miss the Varsity, I certainly miss the growth and the energy of that area.

And school? Meh, I don’t miss school :)

David, Robert — Thanks guys!

Roberta — Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kinda fond of this one, too ;)

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Bruce June 2, 2007

Yup, the downtown area is hardly what it was. I have always liked midtown, but just don’t get into much anymore. Probably been 8 to 10 years since I’ve actually been on campus. Probably doesn’t look a lot like it did when I was there. One of my recent alumni newletters said that a nantech building is even under construction. Imagine. The whole nanotech concept only existed in Feynman’s head back when I was on campus.

I see oscandy has released the three-column version of your released Copyblogger theme. Great of you to let those folks do that. Guess I’ll try it out, too.

Take care. Glad to see you have at least a little bit of time to spend back on your site. I am slowly learning from your many fine posts here.

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db June 8, 2007

Chris, I’m interested in your opinion on why you didn’t just put the navigation links/options below the title/header (in a line across the top). Do you think it makes things look cleaner from a design perspective? With your mention of the prime real estate on the top leftI find it interesting that you choose that spot.

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Roberta June 9, 2007

Yeah, if you released this one, it’d be awesome…maybe if you ever change it? I’ve installed the three column copyblogger theme on my personal page now. I love it, it’s so clean.

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Chris P. June 9, 2007

db — The navigation is important from a usability standpoint, and because of the 3 column layout, it wouldn’t have been suitable to have the navigation span more than one column. Sticking it at the top left is somewhat of a convention on the Web, and since it doesn’t take up all that much room, that was definitely the best choice.

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shane June 30, 2007

When is the Wordpress blog theme Tute coming out. You know you’re gonna do one…..

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Leo Sweeney July 20, 2007

I love your 3-Column Copyblogger Design! Could I tranfer my current blogs to your 3-Column Copyblogger Design??? Would all the old posting transfer or would I have to start from scratch?

Links to my blogs are here here and here.

Thank you!
Leo Sweeney – Toll Free 1-888-455-8343.

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Webactif August 4, 2007

Hi Chris its to cool to see a 3col design split of copyblogger – ive used it @ http://www.davidfirth.com but have changed headers and footers . What do you think?
How easy would it be to make it a 3 column Right design? as id like to use it on another site http://www.kawasakigear.co.uk. Its in raw beta mode at the mo but it has the cutline 1.1 3col right theme but really want to use the 3col CB theme but with both cols on the right.

and Shane sorry for being a bit un-knowledged but what is the wordpress theme TUTE ?

All the best W

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Webactif August 9, 2007

Is Chris on his hols?

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Reece August 21, 2007

Loving the copyblogger theme – although I am rather partial to the one being used here.

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Webactif September 9, 2007

Reece just wondering which one?

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Webactif September 23, 2007

Hello again –
Has any one attempted to run two or three extra templates using the theme.
What I want to do is have two templates : one with two cols and one with none. As a result the main theme I have has 3 cols and I have an option to revert to 2 or 1 when deisred.
Any help much apreciated,
….I do have an idea how to do it but I think my idea could take too long.

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Webactif September 24, 2007

Ive had a go and ive created a one column template with this theme . It might not be the best way but now I can link wp-ecommerce to this template and see all the content properly – when ive worked how to link it to it that is…

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Dave October 13, 2007

FYI-The Copyblogger theme used by the actual website named Copyblogger is different than the one that can be downloaded.

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Butler November 3, 2007

Chris, whats the chance of getting an official copyblogger 3 column release? What would you suggest for some who wants a 3 column theme. Got something in the pipeline?

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Tom November 5, 2007

Where can I download the 3 Column CopyBlogger with Widgets Theme? Please post the exact link. I cant find it anywhere on your sites. Thanks…

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Chris P. November 5, 2007

Tom — There’s no link to a 3-column version of the theme because I did not architect the one that has floated around the Web.

Regardless, here’s the link for that one.

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Chris P. November 6, 2007

Butler — I’m actually in the process of releasing two different 3-column themes. The first, which you can demo and download here, will see its official release either today or tomorrow.

The second theme will be a premium theme, and licensed users will have access to in-depth tutorials, discussions, support threads, and insider advice that is either too detailed or too technical to warrant being posted here.

I hope to release the second theme as soon as possible, but I have a few issues to iron out before I’ll be able to make it official.

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Butler November 6, 2007

Chris I am so in on that new theme. I agree with you about the photos. It’ll be set up by the end of the evening on one of my sites. Is the other three column going to be layed out slightly differently.

I’m interested in the premium theme also (under $100???). I’m sure thousands (seriously) of Cutline users would also be interested. Cutline support seems to have gone to yaya land. Great move and I’m sure it’ll be another success.

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Chris P. November 6, 2007

Butler — The other theme will be laid out differently, and I expect to offer multiple layout variations to members.

I will be offering the new theme at two different price points—the lowest price will be for people who simply want to use the theme, and the higher price will be for those folks who want access to the tutorials, discussions, multiple layout variations, freebies, additional features, etc.

And yes, one big reason why I’ve decided to do this is because I miss running the Cutline community, and based on what I learned from that experience, I also know that I can run an even better theme community that will truly be a great service to its members.

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Butler November 6, 2007

Chris, Got it installed. Looking it over. You SEO the hell out it didn’t ya? You nofollowed the nav_menu links? One thing about that is if you got a really popular post that everyone linked to it might not spread the love throughout the site. Is that correct?

Added the sitemap no problem since I’ve done that several times on your other sites. Anyways looking forward to the offical release. Thanks again for all your work.

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Jason November 10, 2007

Hi Chris

You mentioned that you would be releasing a second theme with premium support. Any thoughts when that will come about or is there a preview link to what the new theme looks like?

Jason

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Chris P. May 15, 2008

Jason — I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet or not, but I finally released that premium theme I was talking about. It’s called Thesis, and it’s available now at DIYthemes.

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Andrei September 12, 2012

awsome theme ever. some people may think 3 column is old school but you make it different.

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Sean April 6, 2014

Great read, keep up the nice job that you do.

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Hoot and/or Holler

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