Re: Fluid design ... always?

Subject: Re: Fluid design ... always?
From: Kate <kate -at- pulpculture -dot- org>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Dec 2005 12:16:57 -0500

At 10:22 AM 12/20/2005, Geoff Hart wrote:

Kate wondered: <<We've been working on CSS layouts for awhile. When we send the sites for critique at all the usual HTML/CSS, particularly ALT.html.critique (which Bonnie Granat's a big fan of), sites, we've been told that we should be using fluid designs. Blogs typically use them so that the page stretches across the screen.>>

There are a few good reasons to use a fixed design, such as when the goal is to show off your typographic skills or when the physical relationships between chunks at different points on the screen are important. But in that case, you should be considering using PDF or a graphic, where you can precisely control positioning irrespective of the browser being used. If positioning isn't crucial, then fluid design is always a better choice.

You can also offer two designs: one fluid, one fixed. I haven't tried this, but it should be possible to use identical content and simply apply different templates to it, then import that identical content using an "include" code in the HTML. That's more work, and I have no idea how well it will work across browsers and browser versions.

Across browsers/versions/OS... that's the problem, yes. If you're trying to achieve a certain look and feel for the client, particularly when drawing on images, fluid design is problematic. I was just going through some Wordpress templates and through the archive of designs at CSS drive (www.cssdrive.com). Very few use completely fluid designs if they use images to create design effects. When using images for effect or to display products, you run into problems with a completely fluid design.

For instance, http://www.themaninblue.com/experiment/ResolutionLayout/

If you use three images of products in the left main content column, you can run into problems with the display, if what the client wants is an image map effect or something similar.

<<But, one thing many clients utterly hate is a site that stretches across the screen making the line lengths too long for ease of reading. I agree, coming from a publishing industry background. It doesn't make any sense if the point is to develop a site that people will read, why make it hard to read?>>

The quick answer is to teach them how to resize the browser window appropriately. If they don't know how to do that, they're uncomfortably kludging their way through life on the Web. If your audience is really that clueless, why not include a "Customize the display" link at the top of the list of links to explain how? <snip>

I think that's the problem though: most folks are really that clueless. Or, at least, more folks than we imagine --when you're talking ordinary Web surfer. Hard to say. But, after stepping out of corporate world, I've had to learn the hard way that the typical user doesn't know how to copy-cut-paste, doesn't know how to send an attachment, doesn't know how to download software, doesn't know how to resize a browser, and will email me for my email address (the one she just sent an email to) because she thinks she lost it. :)

I haven't looked at any surveys lately. IS there any survey tested ordinary consumers and their level of Web/email skill?

Oh, and if you have examples of your favorite completely fluid CSS-based web site, I'd love to archive them. Thanks!


Kate

"It's visually delicious and pensively random. Or
maybe, it's deliciously visual and randomly pensive."

-­ Dave Harper, Space Coast Web

"Scream-of-consciousness prose, peppered with
sociological observations, political ruminations, and
in-yore-face colloquial assaults."

-- Dennis Perrin, redstateson.blogspot.com


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References:
Fluid design ... always?: From: Kate
Fluid design ... always?: From: Geoff Hart

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