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Thread: Page width

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    Page width

    I read somewhere a while back that sites should be designed at 100% but it's something I rarely do as I hate how I lose control over my layout. Is this true? Surely not as there are also recommendations that you should not use any more than 8/9 words on each line of text?

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    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    100% is perhaps the easiest to design for, as it is resolution-independent. What I mean is that your site will take up the whole window without scrolling whether the window size is 800x600 or 320x240 (screen size for handhelds) or any other window size. 100% is preferred because your page will automatically set itself up correctly no matter what is being used to browse your site, be it handhelds, PCs, refridgerators, etc. Keep in mind that IE and Netscape are not the only ways to browse your site!

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    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia
    Keep in mind that IE and Netscape are not the only ways to browse your site!
    I'm well aware of that! In fact in my job it is a necessity that we test sites on a range of browsers and technologies.
    I think what's important here is accessibility. If I design a site at 780px wide it not cos any problems to around 90% of my visitors (UK stats). The remaining 10% or so may need a side scroll or have to increase the font size but they can still access the site. However, once I set width to 100% I do lose control over my layout. It's one of my pet hates that the W3C site is designed as such and reading the text can become really tedious. I find if I minimise my window it's easier to read!
    There is the other point also that we should be using css more for layout. If I want a liquid 3 column layout it can't really done with css. Sure the columns can be laid out but you try using tables and divs within the layout, it's impossible! So the only sure way I can get a liquid 3 col design to work is by specifying widths of my cols.

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    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    the point of using relative (percentage) dimensions is that it makes the site device independant. sure, 780px wide may be ok for visitors on a computer, but won't work too well on PDAs and such.

    i think one viable solution would be to offer alternative, switchable stylesheets...one with fixed, one with relative dimensions. (and hopefully at some point browsers will actually remember your choice of stylesheet across pages on a site, and not require workarounds with server/client-side scripting and cookies)
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    I must admit I've never even used a PDA let alone seen a website on one. Surely anyone using a PDA gets what they deserve, they're are not designed for surfing and web sites were designed with PDAs in mind. I can just imagine this forum on a PDA, surely u would be scrolling all day?

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    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    if your site is about information, then you shouldn't have the "surely they get what they deserve" attitude.
    ok, so maybe a site like this forum would involve more scrolling. well, as long as the scrolling is vertical and not horizontal as well, that's fine and dandy.
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    Sorry, that was a bit tongue in cheek, I didn't mean it really!
    I do think though there comes a point where as a web designer you have to draw a line. PDA users, what percentage of our visitors are we talking here? 0.10%? Is it really worth decreasing the standard of your site for a group of users, who at the end of the day, will still be able to access your site albeit need a side scroll.

    I'm not trying to sound off here, I'm just thinking out loud about a group of users I know little about.

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    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    no worries...i'm a bit curt in my replies as well at the moment

    the 0.10% issue is a bit of a chicken and egg problem, in my opinion. web-enabled PDAs and smartphones are an emerging market, true, but...is the (hypothetical) percentage of 0.10% reflective of how many users use those devices, or is the low percentage caused by the fact that the site is practically unusable on a PDA, so they stay away from it...?
    yes, thinking out loud at this end as well...
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    I don't really think it is necessary for most web sites to support PDAs, and I'm usually pretty hard-core about accessibility. What is appropriate if you have an informational site is to create a PDA-specific area or subdomain that provides an ultralite version of the information on your site. Candidates for this are stock quotes, account balances, reservation systems, etc.--basicly information that people reasonably need access to while on the go.

    By creating a completely different URL for these devices, you can still provide a site with a great design for the users on desktop/laptop computers. One consideration here is that you don't just want a different graphic design, you should also eliminate 90% of the text 'fluff' in most cases for PDA users.

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    Incoherent drivel since 1975 Zopester's Avatar
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    Roll on the day when ' media="handheld" ' is actually supported by handhelds!
    Recommended Reading:
    Why we won't help you - An article by Mark Pilgrim.

    http://www.zopester.com - Coming Soon!

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    Is there a WAI recommendation stating that sites should be resolution-independent, for table widths to be set using % rather than pixels? I can't find one.

    And just one other point, most sites have some kind of banner/graphic at the top, what width should it be made in order for it to be the most accessible? ie suitable for PDAs etc?
    Last edited by Daz; Mar 5, 2003 at 04:38.

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    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    3.4 Use relative rather than absolute units in markup language attribute values and style sheet property values. [Priority 2]
    For example, in CSS, use 'em' or percentage lengths rather than 'pt' or 'cm', which are absolute units. If absolute units are used, validate that the rendered content is usable (refer to the section on validation).
    from http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/wai-page...relative-units

    additionally, using relative rather than absolute sizes could be interpreted as part of the "design for device-independence" guideline (although it's focussing on input devices, the same principles can be applied to display devices).

    it's true, however, that offering multiple stylesheets (or having a browser aware CMS or other server-side "sniffing" mechanism) would solve the problem as well...
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