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Youtube and Google Plus have changed their layouts such that in a very wide browser window, the content columns are left-aliged, leaving a large white space on the right side. This is a change from sites like this one, where content columns are center-aligned within the browser window.

I would like to know the reason behind putting web content on the left side like youtube and google plus did. I know they did not do that just for fun; they must have some reasons? Since I remember web layout was middle centered, why is this starting to change?

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What do you mean by "putting web content on the left side"? –  AndroidHustle Dec 7 '12 at 12:20
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@AndroidHustle he means how G+ and Youtube are left-aligned now. It's mostly only noticeable on 1080p screens (where it's far too noticeable). I'm not sure it's really the intended effect; it looks fine and is centered at 720p and slightly wider screens –  Ben Brocka Dec 7 '12 at 13:14
    
@BenBrocka Ohh, I've never noticed that. Maybe I need to get a bigger screen... –  AndroidHustle Dec 7 '12 at 14:03
    
@AndroidHustle yeah, I strongly suspect it's designed for the most common screen resolutions and maybe tablets, but designers, programmers and gamers are getting a lot of (poorly utilized) whitespace –  Ben Brocka Dec 7 '12 at 15:32
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I asked myself the same question with I saw the new layout. –  the_lotus Dec 7 '12 at 18:35

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This style of fixing certain things relative to the left of the window has the advantage of stability, (in Google+) my profile is always going to be here (relative to the window), my circles is always going to be here regardless of how wide the browser is. Makes for slightly faster use once you learn these items stay fixed and learn their locations.

There's an assumption that people will use this page often enough to develop enough familiarity with the fixed locations of key things that usability does increase.

I'm sure the designers realize the negatives of an unbalanced page (at some widths) and the disconcerting expanses of white space but thought fixing things this way would be (might be?) a worthwhile tradeoff.

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But surely, you can put commonly used elements in consistent locations whatever the page alignment? –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 9 '12 at 22:57

You might have some luck posting your question on Quora for a Googler to answer about their specific motivations. As I am not one, I'll attempt to answer from my POV.

One of the trends that is adapting the traditional center aligned thinking is responsive web design, meaning the content of the page doesn't change dramatically in form and function based on the screen size/resolution from tablet or even iphone to cinema display (More information: http://foundation.zurb.com/).

The best example I can give is Amazon's recent redesign for a responsive layout. If you take a look at Amazon, you'll notice a lot of whitespace in the homepage on a large screen, but much of their content is spaced out to take advantage of it. I suspect that some of the Google properties are preparing for an update to take better advantage of responsive design principles - Google image search for example is full width. G+ and Youtube have created the space to layout the content in the center pane, but the widgets are not updated to take advantage of it yet.

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Ok that is for sure one explanation and I'm sure this was one of their goals. But could not they make center alignment and then just remove padding on left and right when screen is shrunken? I do this all the time. I mean it really doesnt look good (my opinion) –  gGololicic Dec 8 '12 at 11:24

I find it very interesting that this change in youtube's layout has cause (at least) 3 queries on it here in the last week. It's obviously bothering some people.

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