Should all sites be fluid?
~ 15 September 2006 ~
Yesterday’s post about optimizing sites for 1024px has stirred a considerable amount of controversy. Some cried foul assuming I was making the case for moving to 1024 without any regard to target audience. Others assumed I was ignoring the importance of fluid layouts. And others dugg it and buried my site for a few hours last night.
Here’s the deal, people:
- I’m a huge fan of fluid / liquid / elastic / call-it-whatever layouts. As proof of that, consider the case study site I did for CSS Mastery. Stretch it wide, narrow it down, watch it resize and stop around 800 on the low end and 1200 on the high end. The crux of my chapter in the book is fluidity, and that wasn’t just done for show.
- Having said that, fluid designs solve every layout problem much the same as computers make offices paperless i.e. they don’t. Having seen both sides of the coin — fixed-width layouts and fluid layouts (and everything in between) — I don’t buy the argument that every project must be fluid. Certainly it’s wise to consider their use for any project, but regrettably it’s not always practical.
- Is it possible to code a website “optimized for 1024x768” but that works “at any resolution, from 800x600 to 1280x1024 and beyond” as Jakob argues in a recent Alertbox issue? Of course it is. It’s merely a matter of including said considerations in your comp.
- Can you have your cake and eat it too? Yes. Earlier this year Richard Rutter coined the term “variable fixed width layout” to describe and link to techniques that offer fixed-width layouts with an element of fluidity.
- At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing your audience. The recommendation to optimize sites for 1024 with accommodations for 800 to 1280+ is a sweeping generalization; if your project demands otherwise, don’t be swept away.
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