Composr Tutorial: Fixed-width layouts

Written by Chris Graham (ocProducts)
Image

A fixed-width Composr site

A fixed-width Composr site

(Click to enlarge)

Fixed width is available as a theme option in Composr, and is on by default. This tutorial explains the implementation and pros & cons of it.

A topic of regular disagreement in web design is whether 'fixed-width' designs or 'fluid' designs are better. A fixed-width design is one where the horizontal width of the website is fixed, so that it doesn't change when different resolutions are selected.

Proponents of fixed-width argue:
  • that fluid designs (non fixed-width designs) can not function well, because things will always break down when the width significantly exceeds what was tested
  • that fixed-width designs are easier to implement
  • that fixed-width designs are easier to read from
  • that fixed-width designs are more attractive, because it allows more artistic control

Image

A fluid-width Composr site with a relatively thin browser window. Composr's default theme defines a minimum width of 1024, hence the scrollbar.

A fluid-width Composr site with a relatively thin browser window. Composr's default theme defines a minimum width of 1024, hence the scrollbar.

(Click to enlarge)

Image

A fluid-width Composr site with a relatively wide browser window stretching the layout

A fluid-width Composr site with a relatively wide browser window stretching the layout

(Click to enlarge)

Opponents of fixed-width argue:
  • that fixed-width designs make unreasonable assumptions about how websites should be viewed; for example, mobile devices would fail to have enough width for a typical fixed-width design yet are prevented from automatically performing adjustments
  • that people with large resolutions can always make their browser window smaller
  • that using fixed-width is done by those that are applying traditional design skills to the new online medium without adjusting them properly for that medium

Most modern designs are fixed width on desktop computers, and have "responsive design" adjustments to make them look good on different devices.

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