Today I ran across a few web pages with wide text columns. The experience reemphasized a simple usability principal anyone can follow. It is in your best interest to keep text columns on your web site narrow.
Wide Text Columns
Imagine reading a newspaper in which the text column ran the entire width of the page. A full width column would make newspaper reading extremely difficult. Now imagine the same scenario on your computer screen. Our eyes already get tired much easier from reading off a computer screen. Wide online columns are difficult to read.
Higher Resolutions and More Information
With screen resolutions getting higher and more monitors becoming wide screen the challenge is going to be presenting information effectively. There are a number of web sites that are designed for screen widths of 1024 pixels and higher. How much information can you display onscreen at one time before a user gets lost? In the coming years it will be interesting to see if users can keep up with the trend of higher resolution designs.
A History Lesson
We can look to history to give us a time proven example for column width. Pick up any newspaper and take notice of column width. Each news story is broken down into narrow columns of text. Have you ever seen a newspaper where the text column ran the full length of a page? Narrow columns have been used for hundreds of years. There is good reason for this. It is far easier for us to read and comprehend text that is in narrow columns. The same standard can be found in the magazine industry.
Make it easier for users to read your site, keep your text columns narrow.
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