Switched from 2 to 3 Column WordPress Theme Easily

I modified my WordPress template from 2 columns to a 3 column wordpress theme today. As more stuff was available to add to my WordPress blog, the long time 2 column theme was limiting the blog growth. Check out the new format as I now talk about the benefits of 3 columns and how I converted it easily.

3 Column Themes

The easiest way was to select a new WordPress theme, upload by ftp to the themes folder and switch to the new theme in one click! But I was trying to find a simple solution to convert from 2 columns to 3 columns without switching to an entirely new wordpress theme, as that would require lots of tweaking to customize the blog again to a familiar feel.

I decided to use CSS to split the sidebar into two columns rather than use tables. I found some amazing 3-column wordpress themes out there and studied the CSS style sheets of these themes to arrive at a simple solution. I created two columns with fixed widths (via div tags) within the sidebar and float-ed them right and left. Fill in the content and its done. I just needed to edit the CSS stylesheet and sidebar.php, nothing more. Remember to backup the original file before tweaking it.

I also got the flexibility to add full width sidebar links for my latest posts and even fitted in a 336px width Chitika unit. I could easily break away from the 2 split css columns by using the “clear:both” tag in another full width div box.

Now I can hopefully attract some Blogads advertisers by placing these ads in a premium top right sidebar position above the fold (which I am told Blogads guys really like). If I manage to get some Blogads advertisers, these large ads can easily align along the side without affecting the links to my search and feed subscription options which I want to stay on top also. I now have more space to fit in the long list of categories and archives links. The scrolling has reduced as I fit in more content is a smaller space.

A disadvantage of the 3 columns is that the effective width of the blog has increased and readers with 800×600 screen resolutions (used by around 7-8% of my readers) now get some horizontal scrolling to do.

Can you believe this was originally a Blix theme which I have heavily customized over the last year. You don’t need a professional web designer to make your design unique, you just need to modify the CSS really well. What are your thoughts on the new wordpress design? Maybe I should add a dash of more color…

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.