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Thread: Fixed vs. Relative

  1. #1

    Fixed vs. Relative

    Okay. So I went and "tested" my own site, on the "accesiblity" site. And found that we actually pass level 1, but our single error at level 2 was using fixed widths.

    Now, I know that fixed widths for tables and such are a bad thing, supposedly, but I'm wondering how to make a solid looking site, and make it work in 800x600 to 1600x1200 and in whatever font size the visitor might need.

    Are we asking too much to be able to create a site that will work across all mediums?

    I am not a fan of 100% sites, and I'm not sure what the best course of action is from here as a designer. Do ignore this issue, or deal with it?

    I personally think this is a bit unfair of a requirement, as almost everysite known to man would have an issue with this. Especially high quality content driven sites.

    I mean, how do you create a news forum, such as WPW, and and allow the fonts to be sized however, and work in an 800x600 screen with huge font because somone is almost blind?

    Just some ramblings of my own, and wondering what others thought.
    We offer a total eCommerce solution with Hidden Content

  2. #2
    WebProWorld MVP dharrison's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Essex, UK
    Hi weslinda

    The same sort of thing was covered in my thread a few months ago where some interesting points were covered.

    Having said what I said on that thread, I am currently having to develop a fixed web template for one of my customers. The reason: His cousins/friends/boyfriend works for an ad agency and wanted to get into web design (not development, you understand) so I am stuck trying to make a half-viewable copy of a very fussy web page. I might try fluid as well, not just to prive to myself that I can do it, but so I can prove that its nigh impossible.

    I do feel your pain. I agree with making a website compatible across numerous browsers. But there is a point where you just can't do that. For example for mobile phone and podcasts (5" or so to play with).

    100% doesn't always work for me either, but when I do fixed I tend to find the magic number widthways is 749 pixels.

    Deb Harrison
    Hidden Content | Hidden Content
    If I have helped please add to my Reputation

  3. #3

    Screen Size Tester

    Screen Size Tester ( Some of these links may help you)

    Check out your site in different screen sizes.


    Design Tip: Test Your Site With WebTV


    Can you afford to ignore 17 Million users? People Use Different Browsers Close to 17 Million people use something other than Internet Explorer when cruising the Internet.

    Browser Stats. This discusses browser trends, resolution trends, and colour-depth trends for designers who want to decide what to support.

    More Browser Statistics

    Also consider :-Operating Systems and Graphical User Interfaces
    Too Much depression to do much Hidden Content Hidden Content

  4. #4
    TrafficProducer great links! Looks like I have some "clean up" to do!

    I normally build fixed sites but have dabbled in fluid sites (still working on and I personally love them but some customers just don’t “get it”.

    I have found that fluid can take longer but the results are worth it.

  5. #5

    Check download speed of images

    You may also want to Check download speed of images, this one took a while, (about 1.5 seconds), and I'm on broadband:-

    You may wish to give Thumb Nails, smaller images that link to the larger image. Or you may be able to Compress the images more, Give warning of the delay because of size.

    ( Example of Thumb Nails)

    Web Master Tools and Utilities Check download speed of images
    Too Much depression to do much Hidden Content Hidden Content

  6. #6

    Nice links...

    Traffic, nice resources.

    I think my point is more one of when is it too much. I know that we can write style sheets for various mediums such as PDA's and for Auditory browsers, and all those fun things, but when does it get to be too much.

    Should I really stress over my site since I use a fixed with site?

    It uses valid CSS, Valid XHTML 1.1, low images, and very small amounts of markup, but at some point I had to control how the page views to most users.

    I could understand someone like Dell, or MSN, or worrying about making a site that works across all mediums.

    But what about a small business, just trying to keep? How far should they push these "web accesibility" standards?

    I guess it bugs me that I built a very nice, very clean site, and that it simply doesn't matter, I can't be "accesible" because I used a fixed width table to control my overall layout.
    We offer a total eCommerce solution with Hidden Content

  7. #7
    You don't say which 'accessibility' site you used, but it should not have reported a level 2 failure on account of using fixed width columns. There is nothing in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that makes any reference to this.

    Your post raises the issue that there is sometimes no 'best' way to design a certain aspect of a site because the requirements of different user groups are mutually exclusive. In this case a fluid layout is good for users with small screens but it also results in long lines of text that dyslexics find very difficult to read.

    There is a growing body of opinion (expressed in the new PAS78 standard we have in the UK) that users have to meet the designer halfway. For instance text should be resizable but you can't increase the size indefinitely without breaking the layout, so users should be prepared to use magnification software if they require really large fonts. Likewise users can't expect sites to display and function correctly in ten year old browsers that even the vendors don't support any more.

    You could incorporate a style switcher that gives the user the option of viewing a linearised (i.e. single column) version of the site if you have used CSS layout. This puts the onus (not unreasonably) on the user to look for and use such options.

    In the future (already perhaps) designers will be able to provide alternate stylesheets for mobile devices so they display a fluid layout that may be a single column, while a fixed width multi-column layout is used for PCs. It is common to use this method when sending a page to a printer, and the web standards support its use for various classes of output device, but I don't know if there is widespread support among mobile devices yet.

    You will never be able to please everyone, so all you can do is be sure to understand why you made the design choices you did and what the consequences of those choices are.

    Steve Green
    Test Partners Ltd / First Accessibility

  8. #8
    Don't get too hung up if some website says your site isn't accessible. Accessibility isn't black and white like that - it's infinite shades of grey.

    A site may be highly accessible to some user groups and totally inaccessible to others. Some people have disabilities that mean they will never be able to use certain types of website, while others simply don't help themselves by learning to use accessibility features built into browsers, websites and assistive technologies.

    As a designer you need to decide what your objective is - do you want your site to be genuinely accessible to real users or do you just want the badge (which means it should be accessible although it actually may not be at all)? You also need to decide how accessible you want the site to be for different user groups. It's not easy to make these assessments and it's certainly way beyond the ability of some automated test tool to do so.

    Steve Green
    Test Partners Ltd / First Accessibility

  9. #9

    Interesting Post

    This is an interesting post. I am subscribing to this thread. Let's wait to see some more valuebale inputs from fellow web developers.

    IMPO (In My Personal Opinion), this has alwasys been an issue with almost every web designer/developer about what to consider from the following two options

    1. Fixed Width Site Design
    2. Variable Width Site Design

    I've seen that majority of the variable width site designs are also somewhere fixed when you resize the browser window to see where they are fixed.

    Ajay Chadha (Director)
    Chadha Software Technologies (INDIA)

  10. #10

    Fixed vs. Relative

    Yes uses valid CSS, Valid XHTML 1.1, low images,and ....
    Not use screen fixe size and use em for fonts size!
    See this sample:
    for more example:

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