Robert_Charlton - 5:32 pm on Jul 25, 2010 (gmt 0)
The two columns are an improvement... but with the limitations that Tropical Island pointed out.
And, most important for me, the sections are not clearly distinguished from each other. Not enough contrast, white space, borders, section headings, or whatever combination of layout devices they used before.
What the old layout did that the new layout doesn't is that, with not much scrolling, it allowed you fairly easily to take in the whole page at a glance and spot the stories you wanted to explore further.
In this sense, the main news page of the old news layout pretty much functioned like the front page of a printed-on-paper newspaper... hard to do on a computer screen. Maybe they're now designing for much larger monitors/browser windows than what most of us are using, though you'd think that if anyone had good user-stat information, it would be Google. Maybe Google's new generation of designers is so unfamiliar with paper newspapers that they've forgotten how printed newspapers used to work.
I'm running a 1280x1020 monitor... but with my browser window running smaller than my full desktop... and with toolbars, browser bars, and tabs taking up a bunch of real estate at the top... my viewing window right now, eg, is roughly 1170x700. It worked with the old layout just fine. I have no sense of orientation now, even with the new two column layout, and especially not until I've scrolled down off the top section to the column split.