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CSS Forum

    
fluid vs fixed
the layout fight
copongcopong




msg:1213065
 1:17 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

which do you prefer, in your personal site, or projects, all fluid (left-right, top-down), fixed width, or fixed layout?

any personal insight on when and when NOT to go to all fluid design?

any statistics on this how many uses such?

Thanks.

 

grahamstewart




msg:1213066
 1:38 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well...

The site I am constructing at the moment uses a fluid-width, fixed-height header; followed by a fluid-height fixed-width left hand navbar, and a totally fluid main content area.

I always prefer to use some form of fluid layout in my sites as I hate empty space around sites that use a purely fixed layout, it looks very amateurish to my eye.

SethCall




msg:1213067
 4:14 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would have to totally 100% agree with graham.

I use fluid layout as much as possible, and have fixed height or widths when it just makes sense.

But fluid dominates: sites that I have made lately render very simliar in all types of resolutions.

knighty




msg:1213068
 7:27 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)


I always used fixed myself as it looks more professional.

grahamstewart




msg:1213069
 7:43 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Really? You fix everything?

Do you use some form of Javascript/dhtml/php script to resize your content to different resolutions or do you just design for 800x600 and let it sit in the middle with space around it on better resolutions?

Why do you think fixed looks more professional?
Is there some aspect of fluid layout that you don't like?
Are you from a traditional 'print based' design background?

(not trolling - genuinely interested :))

BlobFisk




msg:1213070
 11:51 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Of late I have gone entirely fluid. I'm actually finding it easier to create fluid user interfaces now! I make sure that my design degrades gracefully to non-compliant browsers.

Also, from a usability point of view, fluid designs are better.

knighty




msg:1213071
 3:27 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

grahamstewart,

The whole "fluid" design is a myth.

Everyone sets their browser at a fixed width anyway, for instance I am on 1280 x 1024 yet my browser never gets wider than about 800px because that is the best fit for most sites.

I usually get a nice easily scannable area of text on most sites and lets face it on the web people scan for the information they want rather than reading everything on the entire page.

If I design a site say 720px wide and sit it in the middle and I design and identical one but make it 100% on most peoples screens it will look pretty much the same on most peoples machines.

Whats the point in making it flexible anyway? I can control the layout and presetation better and i dont have to worry about my site looking "stretchy".

Look at one of the biggest sites on the net - BBC - thats fixed width.

No - I am not nor have i ever been in any way connected with the print business, I just like clean, professional looking sites - most of which are fixed width.

grahamstewart




msg:1213072
 3:17 am on Apr 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

The whole "fluid" design is a myth.

Oh right. I must be part of that myth then cos I'm currently reading this site at 1024x768 and I'm quite pleased that it is fluid and fills my window properly.
I view all web pages this way and I dislike pages that don't make use of my extra res.
According to BrowserNews [upsdell.com] about 50% of users have a screen res of 1024x768 - and I would guess that the majority of them have the browser window maximised.

my browser never gets wider than about 800px because that is the best fit for most sites.

Hmm.. so in other words you don't believe in fluid layout, because you don't use a browser window any wider than 800x600, because most sites use a fixed layout. Don't you think that if more of these sites had a well designed fluid layout you might make the window a little bigger?

Whats the point in making it flexible anyway? I can control the layout and presetation better and i dont have to worry about my site looking "stretchy".

Ah-ha. The heart of the matter. The fear of losing control. Yes, a good fluid layout can be difficult to design (though it would be a lot easier if max/min-width/height were better supported).

I could better control the look of the site if I specified all my font sizes absolutely, or if I used flash, or maybe did everything with graphics instead of text.

But I don't because the ethos of html is to supply the content and simply suggest a way to lay it out. The user preferences should always come first. And that includes window size.

As a result, my 'stretchy' sites can be viewed at a large variety of resolutions (including 640x480 and smaller) and they respond properly to font size changes and user supplied style sheets.

Do yours?

Eric_Jarvis




msg:1213073
 1:04 pm on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

since I've got variable eyesight I alter my own set up here dramatically and frequently...I get extremely ticked off with the unjustified assumptions amny designers make about the likely range of browsing situations...there are masses of major web sites that I can ONLY use by imposing my own stylesheet or even by using the source rather than the page

there are some things that need to be fixed in order to look really sharp...everything else should be fluid...above all, I don't care how clever people think it is, I want an end to those bloody pop ups with a fixed height and the navigation set at the bottom so that I can never actually use the damn things

the people who think a fully fixed design looks more professional should take a look on the set up I use when my eyes are struggling...it frequently goes all the way through amateur to utterly incompetent

kyr01




msg:1213074
 1:36 pm on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Guess what, I am reading this on a 1920x1200 screen, and my browser window is restricted to the standard 800x600 (almost...). While WebmasterWorld has a fluid design that could easily fill the screen, I find very unconfortable to read over such a document. Having said this, I would strongly suggest that fluid is the only way to go, at least if you want your design to last for a while. Smaller screens are not disappearing, and every day a new kind of device is connected to the Internet: a fluid design may be a good way to adapt your site to small displays. Please note: I hate the 'three columns domination' of the CSS layout world, and I would like to see something really new out there.

trillianjedi




msg:1213075
 2:10 pm on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can argue that for and against until the cows come home.

The BBC website is an excellent example of what can be achieved with fixed width.

There's also plenty out there that put a great case for fluid width.

Personally, I (very slightly) prefer fluid because it gives me (as a user) the choice, rather than being dictated to by a webdesigner who has no idea about my personal browsing methods and habits or screen size.

I think a lot of it depends on content though. Some work better fluid some work better static.

TJ
(sitting on the fence.... lol)

grahamstewart




msg:1213076
 11:04 pm on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

While WebmasterWorld has a fluid design that could easily fill the screen, I find very unconfortable to read over such a document

Absolutely, if the text gets too wide it becomes uncomfortable for your eyes to scan over. On this site I find 1024x768 perfect as it makes the text about as wide as a sheet of A4 paper on my laptop screen.

But if I had the same res on a much larger screen, I might choose to view the site in a smaller window to make it a more comfortable width, or I might decide to increase the font size. Fortunately, since Brett designed this site to be fluid, I have a choice.

The BBC website is an excellent example of what can be achieved with fixed width.

No denying that the BBC site is excellent. And for a fixed width site it copes remarkably well with increasing the text size (just some small overlaps - but it doesn't let you do it at all in IE).

But I don't think that it particularly needs to be static. And why is it all stuck on the left side?

Incidentally, the BBC is also a great example of what can be achieved with tables-for-layout but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop using CSS positioning.

jamesa




msg:1213077
 2:56 am on Apr 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

But if I had the same res on a much larger screen, I might choose to view the site in a smaller window to make it a more comfortable width, or I might decide to increase the font size.

What average user does this? Most (Windows) users I've seen full-screen everything. Though, the readability of ultra-wide text columns can be improved a bit by increasing the line-height.

I lean more towards variable, though I don't have a problem with fixed at all.

grahamstewart




msg:1213078
 3:29 am on Apr 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

What average user does this? Most (Windows) users I've seen full-screen everything.

Perhaps, but most 'average' users don't use 21inch monitors and rarely run at resolutions above 1024x768.
Those that do will often choose to make the window a little smaller (as indicated in the various posts here).

Ultra-wide text is a problem in fluid designs, but in lieu of better support for max-width, its one I leave to the user to solve for now - if they view the page on a browser thats 1920pixels wide and find that comfortable then so be it.

If you don't think that users, especially those with decent hardware, are capable of resizing a window then I suspect you are under-estimating them a little.

Note that this is also a problem with fixed designs - a 700px wide site looks kinda strange stuck in the middle of the window with 610px margins. :)

knighty




msg:1213079
 8:14 am on Apr 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Note that this is also a problem with fixed designs - a 700px wide site looks kinda strange stuck in the middle of the window with 610px margins.

As does a maximised flexi site thats been designed to be viewed on 1024 :)

I think its pretty safe to say that in resolutions <= 1024 wide most people go full screen but anything else larger than that and people tend to start controlling the window size. Walking round my office where most people have a large screen I didnt see one person with thier browser set to full-screen. (I'm not saying that this means no-one does!)

I'm not trying to rule out flexi design, I would happliy use it if I was doing say a text based site like WebmasterWorld. Its just that from my experience most people have a limit to how much text they can comfortably read on one line.

White space is good, the impression of room is good these are all things that I think fixed width does well. I also think looks are important and that fixed width is the best way to maintain consitency and nice clean design - not because its the easiest.

At the end of the day if a site is good both in aesthetics and content I could'nt care less wether its flex or 200px wide!

A good site is a good site regardless of its dimensions - placing retrictions on what people should and should'nt do is absurd.

gingerbreadman




msg:1213080
 8:36 am on Apr 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I normally go for a fluid design with the textual content at a fixed width.

I run at a stupid resolution 1600 X 1200 but I know that the people that I'm designing for don't.

I like to have use the availble space at higher resolution to 'brand' the entire window but I don't like having to read content that streches from one side of the window to the other. The extra 'mileage' that my eyes have to travel really makes my eyes hurt (especially on white backgrounds).Hence my reason for having a fixed area for textual content.

trillianjedi




msg:1213081
 10:29 am on Apr 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

So do I take it the consensus is for fluid but with a fixed ultimate width where it stops to prevent the text getting too wide over the screen and hard to read?

TJ

madcat




msg:1213082
 6:28 pm on Apr 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

So do I take it the consensus is for fluid but with a fixed ultimate width where it stops to prevent the text getting too wide over the screen and hard to read?

Huh? Sure, just design with percentages instead of pixels.

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