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Re: "Stretchy" vs. Fixed-width

From: Robert Treat <xzilla(at)users(dot)sourceforge(dot)net>
To: Mitch Pirtle <mitch(dot)pirtle(at)gmail(dot)com>
Cc: PostgreSQL www <pgsql-www(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: "Stretchy" vs. Fixed-width
Date: 2004-11-22 15:30:01
Message-ID: 200411221030.02586.xzilla@users.sourceforge.net (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-www
On Sunday 21 November 2004 16:34, Mitch Pirtle wrote:
> Let's not confuse opinion with fact here.  Whether you like fixed
> width or variable is opinion.
>

Whether you "like" it is opinion (highly dependent on the proximity of your 
browser settings to those of the designer in the fixed widht world).  

Which one is better practice of good web usability is not, it is variable 
width. 

> Multicolumn text becoming unreadable when the column widths are not
> controlled is a fact.
>

Entire websites becoming unreadable because the site design cannot adjust to 
people who need to read with large font sizes is a fact.  

variable width <> uncontrolled.  take a look at mozilla.org or debian.org, for 
sites that scale very well over several hundread pixel differences in browser 
width. 


> Anyone can design a layout that stretches to utilize all available
> screen real estate. But that doesn't mean that the aesthetics or
> usability remains constant as the layout dramatically changes - it
> either looks great at larger sizes (and lousy on small ones), or great
> on small sizes (and lousy on large ones).
>

Again, look at php.net. Aesthetically speaking, it looks great on both small 
and large browser sizes.   

Further you're still overlooking that a fixed width website cannot maintain a 
constant aesthetic or usable interface, since things like browser size, 
monitor size, screen resolution, text size, languague, and use of graphics, 
can all be changed on the users end.   

> I personally don't have a preference, but can say there are some very,
> VERY intelligent people who have put a tremendous amount of time and
> effort in order to learn what does and does not work.  Perhaps the
> pundits on C|Net or eWeek are the 'idiots' that you effortlessly
> categorize, but there are also professionals out there that have
> expertise that is significantly superior to anyone on this list.
>

The professionals who have studied this are not the pundits on eWeek and C|
Net, and they have come down on the side of variable width websites.   

> -- Mitch, knowing when his expertise reaches its limits (hint hint)
>

-- Robert, who happens to have a bit of expertise on this subject, as I use to 
do information architecture and web usability work professionally. 

> On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 14:07:14 -0500, Robert Treat
>
> <xzilla(at)users(dot)sourceforge(dot)net> wrote:
> > Thats because most "professionally-trained" designers are idiots when it
> > comes to web design. They want to create artwork like on TV's and
> > magazines (because what they really want to be are graphic artists), and
> > they don't understand that the web is a different medium.  Different
> > users have different monitor sizes, and the view text in different
> > font-sizes, and they will even view the new website in different
> > languagues.  Anyone who has study web usability will understand that
> > trying to force your viewpoint of a design on someone else just leads to
> > trouble.
-- 
Robert Treat
Build A Brighter Lamp :: Linux Apache {middleware} PostgreSQL

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