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Fixed width = poor access?

These narrow pages hurt my eyes...

   
9:13 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



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?

9:41 pm on Feb 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member drdoc is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



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.

11:56 am on Feb 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



a common theme for many is a fixed width 640x480 or 800x600 column running down the middle or on the left.

I don't see what's wrong with a fixed width layout as long as the text is specified in percentages, is resizable and is of a reasonable size to start with?
12:36 pm on Feb 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



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.
10:38 am on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



As for what is wrong with fixed width, it is that far too often it seems to be the easy way out. Plus a 640x looks horrible at 1280.

But the main issue really is the text sizes - it seems that a large percentage of these sites use fixed fonts instead of em's. And that makes the text come out to about a size 6 at higher resolutions.

But perhaps I should not even mention this.. since a lot of our competitors sites are really bad at 1280...