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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 13
01-12-2012, 12:21 PM
Originally Posted by Vexiom
I will never understand why web developers refuse to allow forums to use all available width. Its like they want it to look terrible at high resolution, or something. Or maybe they just hate us. That's possible too.
The problem is when you set up something that is text based to use 100% of a screen, you can't really be very "artsy" with it. Doing the whole "window floating over space picture" thing becomes just noise making it hard to read the text. So you need SOME margins if you want your site to look like something. Also keep in mind that sites have various menus and logos that need to be not just accessible, but look consistent from page to page within the site. They really do spend lots of time determining which links people click from which pages, and things like that.

To keep the look and feel consistent is another important part of brand identity. You really don't want your webpage looking great on a laptop, but terribly wide on a high resolution monitor. It gets extremely difficult to read a page when the text goes all the way across (this is why newspapers use columns).

The solution then, is to either have things totally relatively sized, where the site is 80% wide, and the buttons are 10% wide, etc etc.. and the fonts are mapped out in similar relative sizes. Of course the problem is that up until recently, graphics couldn't be relatively sized. They're made of pixels in almost every case, which are of a static size. You can now, in some browsers, use vector graphics inline within webpages, but the rendering of those images is still sluggish and experimental, and doesn't work on all platforms, screens, and browsers.

So you're faced with a problem as a designer. Who do you make your webpage for? Well I suppose in part you would love to poll all your readers to see what resolutions they tend to use. But in a world increasingly populated with smartphones and tablets and netbooks and the like, small monitors are making a comeback.

But I'll tell you something about relative sizing. When you mix it with standard pixel graphics, it can have a lot of unexpected side effects. A 20% wide sidebar may seem like plenty when you're working on your desktop machine, and you drop in your 200px site logo. But when you get that same site pulled up on a netbook, that 20% can turn very quickly into just barely 204 pixels. Which sounds perfect.. unless you added a 1em margin around the image.