In the past few weeks while researching and trying to get some ideas for our website total makeover, I have looked at dozens, maybe hundreds of template sites, web developer sites, and the like.
And a common theme for many is a fixed width 640x480 or 800x600 column running down the middle or on the left.
Problem is, I run at 1280x1024, and these pages - and the text do NOT act gracefully. In some, I have found text that is so small it was little more than large dots on the screen - yet these are sites that are being churned out NOW by professionals (though that might be debatable in some cases).
So I guess my real question is, are fluid, or at least semi-fluid pages the future? A future where text sizes and maybe even images resize gracefully so us old folks can read them?
When I am surfing the web as a buyer and come across some site where I have to resize my screen to read it, is that an accessibility issue, or just stupid design?
I would say that it is both an accessibility issue and stupid design.
The templates you speak of may be churned out by "professionals", but clearly they are neither concerned about accessibility/usability, nor up to date on this very timely issue.
In the end, one can ask whether being a "professional" is defined by the way your work looks, or whether it is defined by your knowledge and aptitude reflected through your work?
I would personally not consider the work itself professional. Those who show such limited interest in accessibility/usability are either gravely misinformed/under-educated on the topic, or simply do not care.
Because when you resize the text the line length gets shorter which can cause comprehension problems. A simple fix is to size your size in em-widths so that the line length stays the same regardless of the font size.