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Why almost all themes have fixed width? (23 posts)

  1. SAnton
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    What is so good in fixed width?
    Why people do not make themes which will stretch to the full width of window?

  2. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Because most designers are lazy and don't know how to make good variable design. Fixed design is easier, since you have control over all the reference points.

    Designers who create a mockup of a site in something like Photoshop first tend to be especially bad about this, because they're thinking of the design in terms of a "look" instead of in terms of proper semantics and such.

  3. SAnton
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Just that?

    I thought that fixed width – something like «the Significant Part of Web Logs Philosophy»...

    :(

    Do you know good examples of variable themes for WP?

  4. curtismchale
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Fixed width sites allow more control over the exact look of a site. They prevent line lenghts that are way too long or way too short. I don't really believe that the designers are just lazy.

  5. Asapcorp
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    i think it is hard to use big graphics in fluid width themes as graphics will not resize automatically ;)

    Also, designers are not lazy. Lol! BTW, this fixed width / fluid width depends upon how the theme is not coded. so it is not part of designing. it is part of coding. coding and designing both are different. most of the designers are not coders from my experience. so we cannot blame the designers for this issue. ha ha :)

    apologize me if i am wrong. :)

  6. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    I blame designers for the issue because fixed-width designs are the tool of the devil.

    A website should not be fixed width, it should be smart-width. That is, it should adapt to the width of the viewers browser, not arbitrarily surround itself with blank space in the middle of the screen.

    Yes, designers who create fixed width designs are lazy. Too lazy to make a design that scales properly.

    Also, a designer who is not a coder is not a "web designer" because the web is made of code. That's how it works.

    (No, I do not care for this site's design either. It makes me scroll too much, since it only takes up 50% of my screen.)

  7. rboatright
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Otto, If you want a full-width header banner, in xhtml and css2, how do you scale your background? Answer: you don't and that leads to fixed width design for graphically intensive sites.

    This isn't JUST lazyness. it's a lack in browsers that fail to accept the reality of scaling graphics.

    Rick

  8. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Otto, If you want a full-width header banner, in xhtml and css2, how do you scale your background?

    Correct answer: you should not want a full width header banner.

    Seriously, your problem here is that the banner must be a fixed width (unless you design it in pieces that scale accordingly, like many site designers have done before). Well, in that case, the problem is not to make it scale according to the site width, but to design a site that still looks good under that fixed width banner.

    Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the idea of forcing the entire rest of the site to fit into a single column underneath that fixed width banner (however wide you make it) is about the stupidest solution possible to that problem.

    Seriously, you're not designing for print here. It's the web. It's a web page. It's dynamic. And if you want to make it look good for print, then you can with alternate print css rules.

    This isn't JUST lazyness. it's a lack in browsers that fail to accept the reality of scaling graphics.

    Nonsense. Don't blame the browser for your own lack of vision. If you want the banner to take up the whole top, then design a banner with space in the middle that can scale, cut the banner in two pieces, stick them in a banner div with a background color, and float them left/right. Or perhaps design overlapping pieces that will look different when pulled apart. Or make a really long banner that will cover the site no matter how wide it is (within reason).

    There's always a way.

  9. rboatright
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    But it's not just banners Otto, it's background images of all sorts.

    Sure, the banner problem is non trivial... the classic example being something like http://sunflowerintergroupoa.org/wordpress/ - where the customer DESPIRITELY wanted a banner across the top, and that image just _isn't_ going to be chopped into parts and the parts scaled. It's _an image._

    You have similar problems with other sites that want to do full-graphic backgrounds that extend OUT of the header. This isn't a failing of the designer. If the software ALLOWED the background images to scale, the designers would move to fluid layouts. Thisis a failing of the software. To say to designers: Restrict yourself to segmented backgrounds which have smooth transitions which can scale and accept that even though this is the web and you can do almost anything, your fully graphic backgrounds are prohibited" is silly.

    If the software evolves to support scaling images, the designers will follow. That's not to say you can't do some pretty amazing things with careful setup of the graphics to support fluid widths: http://www.grantvillegazette.com/ but you have to keep the customer happy. Money wins Otto.

  10. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    but you have to keep the customer happy. Money wins Otto.

    No, you really don't, and no, money does not win. You can always simply drop them as a client.

    Of course, I can pick and choose my customers, since I don't rely on them for my primary income, however, I would drop a client rather than make them a sub-par site. Sorry, but I have standards.

  11. uoflcardgame
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Flexible width should be king as far as exceptional design. Those designers who provide flexible width separate themselves from the herd.

  12. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Also, it IS possible to make a background image scale. Just think outside the box a bit.

    <img id="background" src="whatever.jpg" />
    
    img#background {
    height: 100%;
    width: 100%;
    position:absolute;
    z-index:-1;
    }
    
    body {
    background-color: transparent;
    }

    :)

  13. olddocks
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Thats because of the latest widescreen LCDs. I personally prefer a liquid width layout.

  14. demetris
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Having to follow/scan lines thirty or forty words long is not easy, and vertical scanning is easier than horizontal scanning. (Usability studies and recommendations that I have read place the best line length at 60 characters or even less.) This is a valid reason to use a fixed width design.

    In my personal use I’m not much affected by such design choices, since I don’t use a maximized browser window. In my site I use a maximum width defined in relative units (the lines in the main column are about 100 characters long, much more than the usability experts recommend), and I also offer an alternative style to switch to full width. But the site has no graphics at all :-) so this is easy to implement.

  15. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Having to follow/scan lines thirty or forty words long is not easy, and vertical scanning is easier than horizontal scanning. (Usability studies and recommendations that I have read place the best line length at 60 characters or even less.) This is a valid reason to use a fixed width design.

    No, it's more a valid reason to choose your font sizing carefully, as well as to limit the length of your columns to appropriate levels. Who says you have to have only one column of content? More to the point, who says that the number of columns has to be fixed?

  16. SAnton
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    More to the point, who says that the number of columns has to be fixed?

    :)

    What is your advise in such cases?

    Let the user change font size and the number of columns?
    Or make this automatically?

    I think about selecting header of best size using JavaScript...

  17. Roy
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Did you ever read this little investigation? The writer's comments are sometimes telling :-)

  18. mores
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    There's a reason books and magazines have evolved into what they are today. The classic layout has been tried and tested, and there definately are reasons, why the standard size paper is today's standard. Don't quote me on the sources or the numbers, I learned this a while ago.

    I have yet to see a fluid width site that appeals to my eye. It utilizes the browser window in an optimal way, but it sure ain't pretty!

  19. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    The classic layout has been tried and tested, and there definately are reasons, why the standard size paper is today's standard.

    And which standard paper size would that be, exactly?

    I get several magazines and not one of them is the same size as any other. And newspapers are frequently different sizes as well.

  20. mores
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    :)
    It's not about the actual size, it's the width:height aspect ratio that's important.

    As to your different sized magazines: I bet it's only few mm that make them different. Unless you have some artsy fartsy design mags that try to be different and unique, you'll most definately be somewhere in the A4 area.

    Then again, I can immagine a site with a fixed left and/or right column and a flexible content area that sports magazine/newspaper sized colums and the wider the page the more columns you have. If you're thinking of something like that, you definately have my support. But a.f.a.i.k. the columns thing is only available in future CSS definitions.

  21. SAnton
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    I'm not a designer, so it was hard for me to make a fluid layout.

    So, I decided instead of this switch style when window width is more than 1230 pixels. I took Digg-3-Columns theme and highly modified it. That is what I have got: http://iproc.ru/interesting/hydro-history/ (try resising window above and below 1230 pixels width).

    I thought that style switching is my original idea, but later I found this: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/switchymclayout
    :(

  22. rosemckay
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    LOL, designers are supposed to make things look nice. Fixed width looks nice. It is considered desirable. Fluid layout designs have a tendency to be ugly. Yes, you can scale a background image with 100% width and height but then you'll end up squishing (tweaking the proper proportions) it as well... the horrific diabolical taboo of design. It's just the sure sign of an amateur. My graphic design professors in collage nagged and harped "NEVER SQUISH OR STRETCH AN IMAGE OR FONT!" And they were right. It's repulsive.

    Fluid design can be very impressive. I don't think it's fair to say designers are lazy because they make a qualified design decision to compliment the needs of their design. There is nothing inherently wrong with fixed width.

    No one is "lazy" because their priority of aesthetic vs. mechanism is different than yours. Seems silly to be angry and insulting about something that is so subjective anyway.

    Why put any thought into visual flow, conceptual positioning, or proper image and text proportions when you can just plop it all in, tell it to stretch to fit, and attribute the resulting hideousness to the "superior design of fluid layout?"

    Bleh.

  23. Jori
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Hello there. I'm precisely thinking a lot about fluid or fixed design.

    Simple facts : a fluid design can adapt to screen resolutions, wich is good. I've made a lot of fluid wordpress templates : http://blog.thomascook.fr/demo/en/themes-wordpress/

    Those are all fluid, like my own LiquiCard. But this one will stretch until a certain point. It will limit his stretching : not greater than X pixels.

    The huge advantage of fixed width is the simplicity to add pictures in blog posts. Today, with some pictures in float left in an article, I will have an ugly article, with ugly text, if the design was fluid. If everything was fixed, it will be really easy to put images in a post.

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