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Horizontal Scrolling -- Allowed?

 4:47 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

When the world was changing from a 640x480 standard to a 800x600 majority, many sites began to design pages that filled the larger screen, but also allowed one single horizontal scroll for the 640 monitor to put all the text on-screen.

That is, the content was still under 640 pixels wide, even though with the nav bars and all, it was 800. The nav was then off screen but accessible with a single horizontal scroll back. Even today, that is a common way of accommodating the 9% or so who are at 640.

I'm starting to see this technique again at the next tier up, as the 1024 setting becomes more and more common.

Does this really make sense to people? I think the optimum is to flow the layout for any screen width, but that isn't always practical, especially with displays now going up to 1600.




 5:00 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

Percentages, percentages.

It goes both ways. If I'm on a site designed for 640x480, I rarely stick around for long (1280x1024 here most days). All that white space gets annoying and looks bad.

On the other hand, I don't want to have to scroll to the right. I still think right scrolling is a death nail. I've never seen anyone recommend it. Have you?


 5:09 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

No, I've never seen it recommended, but I do see it done -- the most common res gets a full screen, but the lower res gets a screen that works with a single horizontal scroll.

Why am I thinking about this? I have several clients for whom aesthetics are paramount -- you know, they sell fine art of some kind for instance, and they really think in a kind of print sensibility, even though they have a web site. They want everyone's screen to be visually balanced.

With the large variation in displays today, giving a good look to all of them is a challenge, so I'm grasping a bit for solutions. I don't really want to serve different code to different resolutions -- put that together with browser sniffing and I've got a nasty tangle, and higher charges for the client.


 5:13 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

speaking of side scrolling you have to go check out this site: [squinterland.com ].

They are using a scroller as a nav. You move the top scroll bar until it over the particular band name you are interested in and there will be a little blurb about them.


 5:31 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

Wow, that's quite an innovation. Almost good. If the download time was better I might really dig it. Talk about outside the envelope!

It does give me ideas, although I may never use them -- It's kind of fun to explore horizontally.

sean orourke

 5:34 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> Tedster >> I think the optimum is to flow the layout for any screen width, but that isn't always practical, especially with displays now going up to 1600.

While there are plenty of places to find browser resolution stats [thecounter.com] it might be worth finding out what percentage of users at high resolutions browse with a maximized window. Anectodally, friends who have their monitors set to ultra-high resolutions often have the browser at 1/2 or 2/3 of the total screen. Personally, I prefer adjustable width, based on the assumption that most people have their browser set to their favorite size (passively via moniter resolution or actively via browser resizing). IMHO YMMV

Edited by: tedster (fixed link)

Edited by: tedster


 6:55 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

I have to guess my answer is overlooking something but why not use tables and set the width as %s?



 7:00 pm on Jan 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

>they really think in a kind of print sensibility, even though they have a web site. They want everyone's screen to be visually balanced.

That's my site! I've always put everything in a centered 600p width table. Almost all of my pages mix a photo and some text that flows around it (sometimes 2 photos) in a very print-magazine-like style. I like the balance of the text against the photo and want the proportions to "feel" like they are from the print world. I've stayed away from percentages because I didn't want the composition's layout to switch from portrait to landscape without being under my control.

But having fallow screen real estate can't go on. I've decided to widen to 700+ (where's the break-to-scroll on 800 res, 750??) and reformat. My major concern, however, has always been with the photos themselves. The img tag width and height attributes aren't resizable by percentages are they? If they remain a constant 220p width for example, they are going to be pretty small on 1280x1024.

Meant to tell you the other day, tedster.... USAToday site has a pop-up that says they're going to a new, wider format.


 4:29 am on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

From time to time, I email sites I visit often to complain about fixed-width layouts. I just did that a few days ago with CNet's new layout.

As for resizing images, yes--I believe some sites use resized 1x1 gifs for horizontal and vertical lines. I'm not absolutely sure that works with percentage widths, specifically, but I think so. The old memory's not what it used to be (before I hit my 20s).


 6:37 am on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> why not use tables and set the width as %s?

This is often the best solution/compromise. However, when lines of type get too far above 100 characters or so, reading speed and comprehension drop -- and on-screen reading speeds are already low. The problem is that the eye needs to travel too far back to the left at the end of each line, and you tend to lose track of which line you are on.

It helps this problem to use css and set the line spacing wider than standard -- the trade off is that smaller screens have more scrolling to do.

>> what percentage of users at high resolutions browse with a maximized window.

That's the hard one -- I've never seen that statistic. This is also the reason I don't worry too much about ending up with 200 character long lines of type.

I also figure that people running very wide windows have to cope with whatever commonpractices are at any time. So I watch for the most general practices and try not to deviate too extremely far from that.

>> The img tag width and height attributes aren't resizable by percentages are they?

I'm not so sure about this solution. If you use the browser to redraw an image beyond its 100% size, all you get is visible pixelation, not a better looking image.

On the other hand, if you provide a large enough file to render the larger image, then the folks with the smaller screen settings take a big performance hit to no result. The client has to download two or three times the data it actually needs to draw the smaller sized image.

Paul Woodley

 6:33 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

I agree with all that say use Percentages. I have done that since I started designing in 96 and continue to do that now.
For starters create a TAbLE that is 100% Wide and 100% High
Now you are using up the whole screen and you will avoid scroll bars (left-right), that is unless you put in an image bigger than the table in pixels.

My suggestion as far as images and the size of them: What I do is I make no Image larger than 400 X 400
One it is within the 800X600 resolution and another it is not too big (though I think that is too big anyway (-: ) to slow down your site.

The Artists who want to make this into a fullblown multimedia event need to understand bandwidth issues. ANd I agree what the person above said about the long text hard on the eyes before a line break <br>

Though many are against FRAMES I love it! And if you use frames properly it will always seem like the screen is a container and each click loads fast (though not always)

The great think about frames is that it psyches people out that the site is fast (it could be) when it might not be. By me saying this what I mean is since the frame "looks" like a container, the container always stays in view (No refresh) and the content just loads in it.

So in short if it were me. I would do 100% width and height or use frames and keep your images fixed (optimized) for the 600x800 screen.

Other than that, your clients or artists may want to design all this on a CDR for presentational purposes and let the machine dictate the speed rather the web. That way you can use much larger graphics.



 6:45 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi Paul, and welcome to WebmasterWorld.

>FRAMES I love
Sorry, but now we're going to have to ask you to leave. ;)

>What I do is I make no Image larger than 400 X 400
I set my standards at a width make no larger than 320 and no less than 220. This seems to accommodate most of the current ranges in resolution.

This issue is already looming for those that use thumbnails -real estate sites for example- they may not yet realize that their images are already too small for some to discern. The same goes for graphic enhancements such as bullets, they are flyspecks.

Edited by: rcjordan


 6:49 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> why not use tables and set the width as %s?

A few years ago I worked in a web-design "sweatshop" a for a couple weeks. One of those companies that has 30+ webmasters cranking out 300 6-page sites per week. They had it standarized where all sites had to have a tables set to 80%. They figured to go with this number since many of their sites had frames/no frames with nav bars on the left. I found it to be a good % too, it leaves you with a little room to spare for other things you might have to add later.


 6:54 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi Paul, welcome to the forums. I personally agree with you that frames look good and (to me at least) are easy to use.
Last year I re-designed a site that was previously in frames and moved it all to "flat" pages. I was motivated by many people's observations that frames hurt search engine rank, and this site needed every edge I could get for it.

Well, I did get better ranking, but the big surprise for me was that visitors nearly DOUBLED their stay on the site (page-views per unique increased more than 100%).

My take on this so far has been that not everyone understands how frames work, or feels comfortable with them. Especially when a site is aimed at a wide audience, not just a technical audience, this comes into play. All brains do not organize information in a similar way, and frames seems to be a mind-boggle for a sizable percentage of the population.

Do you have an opposite example, that is moving from flat pages to framed content improved the sites stats? I'm very interested in this area, because frames also seem potentially useful to me. But I'm also pragmatic -- if the stats suffer, I change, no matter what my personal preference.

What's your take on this?

Paul Woodley

 6:57 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

Leave? I'm just getting warmed up!!
I disagree with the 80% rule. If you do the 100% rule you have no white space and if you need to ADD you just work on your Table Nesting skills.

Ideally, a FRAME site with proper Tables inside is the BEST. No one can ever change my mind accept if you show me a super fast FLASH site! Though I love tables (AND THEY DEF. DO WORK) try not to nest tables too much. Better to nest your TR and TD tags to speed up the page!

SOmeone mentioned why not size 100% in tables. Well you can definately do that and that is the OTHER option. Ideally create 1 Template at 100% H&W in a table and SSI all your content into it! If you don't then your left to Cut-n-pasting forever. (Not good for huge sites)

Paul Woodley

 7:18 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

I knew sooner or later someone would mention SE's and Frames. Here's my take. I have been studying and adapting to the SE's for a long time.

Part A. You are correct about the SE's not liking the FRAME pages BUT that is NOT always so.

(I'll just stick to Part A... LOL)

People who do NOT get listed well or at all with FRAME sites (considering all else is equal..like everyone using webposition gold and has equal skillset) usually don't get listed becuase the disobey the LAW's of POPULARITY! They are:
1. Always have a <no frames> tag in your frame page
2. Make that FRAME page an index.htm or index.html page
3. Have at least your description in your Header frame
4. Have good link relevancy and be cross linked with other sites

ANd there are a lot more. I find just to continue this point (and many will agree) that smaller description, title and h1 usage,content, and how many are linked to you (external sites) are really the main keys!

What I do is use doorway pages OF sub-domains. Another thing is that people don't realize that the Registrar like Network Solutions is using their frame or cloak to
hide your domain name. ANd so people with frames must make sure to use the DNS settings of the registrar to achieve this.

In regards to your increase click and unique visitor stats...


But the real key here is stickyness. I think it is great that you got all those clicks but the real question are they bookmarking your site and returning?

Here's a tip! If you use FRAMES or FLAT dont make the page to big in KB and don't have too mush JS becuase if spiders time out too if your content is too big! And that I think is the main reason why most FRAMED istes dont do well becuase they are linking 2--4 sometimes more .htm pages and the spiders just go back home to eat more spidy food! (-:



 7:40 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)


Several of us are using noframes for SEO, check out this thread [webmasterworld.com].

Paul Woodley

 8:12 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

WHAT I find most amusing over there on that thread is that people are totally throwing out whole web designs or doing complete redesigns because of a small change in algorithms.

My take is this. Assuming your site is sticky to begin with you will have repeat traffic and you will have a lot of people used to your GUI

But, if you do a redesign or do it often, people don't feel like it is the "old" site and thus may not return.

Though I believe SE's are important they are not as important as proper marketing of a site which includes newsletters, message boards like this one, fresh content (maybe daily) or simply (todays date on it), cross linking etc.

Personally though I monitor my SE Rankings for mine and my client sites I monitor the cross-links (people who are linking) to me even more!

Coincidentally, the more links I get the more my SE rankings go up!! HMM
And at the same time I am tracking "stickyness"

A diff point of view I think than the algorithm thinkers.

By the way there was a report I forget where it was but I am certain someone here knows that says the majority of hits to a site are NOT from SE's but Bookmarks. My goal is the Bookmark market some via SE's but most through cross-linking!



 8:35 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

>throwing out whole web designs or doing complete redesigns because of a small change in algorithms

Absolutely. Much depends on how your pushing the site(s). My sites, for instance, live and die by SE and directory listings. There is zero outside marketing.


 10:32 pm on Jan 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> the majority of hits to a site are NOT from SE's but Bookmarks.

Maybe, but that statistic really needs a close look, and shouldn't be used too casually, IMO.

The question I really need to understand is how people find a site for the FIRST time. Every study I've seen on this issue says search engines run very strong. But that's a differnt question from where do hits originate.

Pure-play ecommerce can need 60% or so of their first time traffic to come from search engines. If the site is a bricks-and-mortar expansion, then there are other natural vehicles in place, the name is already branded, etc.

We help our clients develop a well rounded program for driving in traffic, including all the vehicles mentioned above and more (PR, direct mail, etc). Since any given search engine can evaporate over night as a traffic source, this is vital. But the overall balance of where traffic comes from varies with each business model, and some operations need to be very dependent on search engines.

I have one client who survived for 3 years with almost no SE traffic, but their site was designed to provide service to established clients.

Even so, now they want to see some real first time traffic from the search engines, and we are doing a major redesign. We've enlisted the established customer base as beta testers, so they don't feel alientated as the site changes. In fact, they seem to really dig being a part of it.


 3:12 pm on Jan 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster for the insite.


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