[thelist] page width trend - 800 or 1024 or other?

Felix Miata mrmazda at ij.net
Thu Dec 11 12:06:32 CST 2008

On 2008/12/11 07:11 (GMT-0800) Erika composed:

> Felix Miata wrote:

>> ranging from 15.4" laptops to 26" desktops. Widths, and text size, on modern
>> pages should be set entirely without regard to px.
>> http://fm.no-ip.com/SS/bbcSS.html

> I've been thinking about your position on this, trying to make your 
> ideas work in designs, and have found it nearly impossible to achieve, 
> at least as far as current aesthetics regarding web page display.

Not sure what you mean by "current" aesthetics, but I think as long as sites
like http://www.positioniseverything.net/ (px fixed width, 90% Verdana),
http://evolt.org/ (px fixed width nav, no overall width constraint, 80%
font-size on body) and http://www.alistapart.com/ (px fixed widths, .8125
Verdana on body) fail to be good examples of how it can be done, I can't see
many major sites materially deviating from the status quo. If one of the open
source CMS systems was doing it, maybe others would notice, and pay heed.

> Liquid design of fonts, divs, objects... was (is) supposed to resolve 
> issues of differing monitor sizes, resolutions... but with the range 
> available today, in all but the simplest designs, it is too difficult to 
> manage page elements on different browsers.  At least with fixed-width 
> divs you can figure things will stay proportional.

How are you finding my simple examples to fall short? If so, how? Are you
still trying to make everything always look "exactly" the same in all
browsers? If so, why?

> So much of web design (and development) is about some kind of trade off, 
> or choosing a "lesser evil." 

Compromise is part of most design, not just web design. For example in car
design, a shallow windshield rake makes for both a good look, and less drag.
In contrast, a too shallow rake likely puts the top too close to the drivers
head, where it's more easily impacted in a crash, and also makes the bottom
of the glass and back of the dash harder to clean. If you move the base of
the glass farther forward in order to maintain distance to the driver's head,
then either the overall design will gain unwanted weight, or impose
servicability degradation. Choices have to be made based on priorities which
themselves constitute compromise.

In web design, appearance seems to nearly always take a back seat to function
and/or accessibility. The latter should be the priority in all situations
where the function of the site isn't itself about appearance. While the
host's "image" usually matters, not un-typically a lot, it should never
matter more than getting the job done, nor shut out potential users, nor
aggravate users. Imperfect appearance is the lesser evil. None of us look
perfect, though most of us function well enough. Why must web sites be the

> The biggest problem comes, for me, with
> managing line length in liquid divs. 

What's wrong with min-width & max-width using ems for outer elements, and %
for inners? Yes we know legacy IE versions don't directly support them, but
should that matter any more? IE6 & earlier is dying, and dangerous for users
- people using IE6 have bigger problems than line length. Let IE6 users
shorten too wide stuff by shrinking their windows. That's not hard, while
making too short stuff wider is as a practical matter impossible. Include
help on site for getting off IE dependance for those still addicted.

> Secondarily, aesthetics, such as
> managing margins and where images are placed, are a challenge as well. 
> Though things may change one day, currently people seem to still want to 
> see a "controlled" and polished-looking design.

Sounds like control-freak-itus somewhere, pages designed for designers rather
than users. The web isn't paper. Viewports vary, a lot. Web pages needn't
look like they were meant to function correctly only in a designer's viewport.

> Usability-wise, I don't know how people surf the web with larger 
> monitors.  Do they resize windows? (I'm talking about PC users.)

Should it matter? You know they vary, so your job should be to take that
knowledge into account by making it matter as little as possible, or not at
all. Don't forget, some people buy bigger monitors not to gain screen real
estate, but to make things bigger. That that desire often fails (bigger size
typically is accompanied by higher DPI, often more DPI increase than size
increase, with negative net effect from the "upgrade") is a sign that there's
something wrong with today's web paradigm.

> In the past, they did not.

Is this a proven fact? Even if it is/was, need it matter?

> If you have screenshots of more complex sites that successfully 
> implement what you consider to be *good* design practices (sizes not 
> dependent on px), do you mind sharing those?

http://cssliquid.com/ may be a place to start with examples. I've not tried
per se to collect "complex" sites. The screenshots I have are mostly in
http://fm.no-ip.com/SS/ and its subdirs, but they are far more "what's wrong"
shots than "what's good". Does anything in
http://css-discuss.incutio.com/?page=ShowCase fill the bill? If you find
something that isn't there and should be, you can put it there. I haven't had
time to look in a long time.
"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor
in vain."			Psalm 127:1 NIV

 Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409

Felix Miata  ***  http://fm.no-ip.com/

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