Hi folks, please can I pick your brains on layout styling methods, please?
I'm writing a website and we're pulling in a design company to make it look pretty as I have the colour co-ordination skills of a duck. They have been made up these pretty design layouts in photoshop that have a nice containing border with drop-shadows and curved corners and a gray "lower" page background and it all looks very pretty, however this needs to be converted into cross-browser HTML.
They said they design for a certain width (IIRC it was 900px) but I've resisted this and have gone for a flowing width, as (as far as I recall) the current advice/best practice is to code as much as possible without absolute widths and to let the browser and its settings handle the code, so this not only allows for different screen sizes - esp nowadays with sizes varying from tablets and mobile phones up to very large monitors - and it also minimises interference with any browser settings, such as differnt base font being selected for either visibility purposes (in the case of a very high-res monitor) or accessibility purposes. They also recommended specific font sizes, but I also discounted that and am using relative sizes everywhere.
Also, as I mentioned, they have nice curved borders on their containers. I have got this working fine on Firefox, Opera, Chrome, etc using CSS but it doesn't work in IE - they just appear as square, which I think looks ok. However, as their nice photoshopped mock-up has rounded corners there is nudgings to try to get this working. I spoke to them and they say it's easy with a fixed width, as they can do it with graphics, and it may, again, be possible on a flowing width with graphics, but they'd need to play around to get it working. I'm somewhat resistant to this as, as far as I'm aware, this is the "old" way of doing things, and is somewhat frowned upon nowadays. Am I being too purist on this, and is it likely to work reliably?
I'm very aware that they're a design company and I just a programmer, so they should know best, but I'm somewhat doubtful as they seem to be stuck in the past a bit with their design methods (their own company site is purely written in flash), plus this site really needs to work on not only tablets, etc, but also on old machines on dial-up - some of the users will potentially be in third world countries with limited/old machines and slow connections. There's also the issue that most of the design articles and advice I've read and received all seem to say to move to flowing design using CSS rather than graphics to produce effects, so that if an older browser doesn't support certain things it will still work but just won't look as pretty.
Any comments would be welcome - am I being too much of a CSS purist and should I slacken off, or are they a bit stuck in the past with their design methods - during a conversation I did say the days of fixed width websites are gone but the reply was that it's not and there's loads of websites out there that use fixed width, but to my mind:-
a) just because other people are doing it, it doesn't make it right
b) there are plenty of "badly" written sites out there that proabably need an overhaul, or they're "badly" written by today's standards but when they were written, those methodologies were fine.
I know there's not necessarily a black-and-white right or wrong answer to this, but I was wondering on peoples' thoughts