Is it sensible to have a left margin on websites?

  RWest 21:50 02 Dec 2007
Locked

I can see the arguments against frames - for one thing, they're complicated; for another, search engines may get confused.

Does anyone have informed view on the use of a fixed left hand margin? I.e. no horizontal frame.
[1] Because screens now are getting wider, so the space is there;
[2] The convenience of having a permanent navigational aid - unlike a table with a left hand column, it wouldn't scroll away up.

I do not at present have a site or I'd test such a thing for search-engine friendliness; I want to know whether a limited frame of that sort would be search engine friendly.....?

  Kemistri 23:20 02 Dec 2007

I only use two layouts - fixed width and dynamic. Both centred. If you want a fixed navbox that doesn't scroll with the content, just use position:fixed - job done.

  RWest 01:49 03 Dec 2007

Ahah ... thanks; I've never heard of that; is it javascript? I mean I've never heard of <position> or an HTML thing. I expect I can find out but I'd appreciate a def. answer and thanks in advance!

  RWest 11:27 03 Dec 2007

Ah.. I've just found out it's part of CSS (style sheets) which I've hardly bothered with. They're mentioned in an HTML book I have ('Black Book' by someone called Holzner - DO NOT buy this book; it has long long lists copied from official specs of HTML with no information on how to use them in practice. If anyone can recommend a good well written HTML book, with examples written in helpful style and ideally with well filled pages and not huge empty margins, please let em know! (I wrote computer books ages ago and took great care over sequence of information, proper explanations, and the index etc etc). A good website would be nice but generlly these have tiny dollops of info interspersed with very large dollps of ads and promotional stuff a l'Americain.

  Chillie 12:48 03 Dec 2007

I to decided to start a website for my village, version 1 was terrible but with the help of many on this forum including Fourm member and FE, I know I have a better site - not yet brilliant.

I wrote all the code in XHTML Strict 1.0 and, besides the Forum's input, I found these 2 books absolutely essential. In order of preference (1)Build your own website the right way using HTML & CSS by Ian Lloyd (Sitepoint) (2) SAMS Teach Youself HTML & CSS in 24 Hours by Oliver & Morrison; both available from Amazon or other sellers.

Writing the code, I use HTMLGATE FREE, which gives you the choice HTML or XTHML, as your preferred Code language. I have used Tables only in areas where I do not yet have the knowledge to do otherwise.

As in the beginning, take the plunge and write your own site, and with the help of our friendly group here, we will try an help.

I am not jumping in and taking over your Thread but have a look at my effort, not yet full of content, but we hope, pray and wish.. click here

  Kemistri 13:26 03 Dec 2007

Rather than Chillie's #1, I would opt for the slightly more comprehensive "The CSS Anthology" and "The Art and Science of CSS" from the same range - click here. Then add "CSS Mastery" - click here
Plus a few good web resources for coding and inspiration - click here
click here
click here
click here
click here
Shame on anyone who still uses tables for layout!

  Chillie 14:23 03 Dec 2007

I now have to go and look at your links -- always willing to learn.

Chillie

  gibbs1984 15:01 03 Dec 2007

As part of a course I'm doing I'm currently reading Joel Sklars Principles of Web Design which I've found to be very good, it's not a great book for learning XHTML and CSS but as the title suggests it's more about the principles, about usability and accessability. It can be esay to write the code and produce a web page but to get everything right so that the user has a user friendly experience can be your downfall, this book is great for over coming that.

  Kemistri 15:58 03 Dec 2007

I have to second that - I am a bit of an evangelist when it comes to accessibility and usability.

  RWest 21:54 03 Dec 2007

Ahah! Well, amazing how things have subtly changes in 5 years. Don't get the wrong idea; I had quite a good site of my own 1997-2003 (1.4M hits!) and want to revive it, but have been doing totally other things, and want to avoid errors.

Fascinating that kemistri recommends CSS with barely a mention of HTML and also doesn't bother with tables - which I quite liked. Thanks for the suggestions which I'll plough through and decide about.

I'm trying to arrange the site so that an index probably on the left, or top, is always present; the reason is, I have a lot of topics, many of them utterly separate from others; a search engine is therefore likely to cause any one of quite a lot of sites to be loaded, rather than just the index, and the more the other links are clearly signposted in a systematic way, the better.

Can I ask another question, also where things have changed? (I have another thread on this which was badly worded). I'd like people to be able to pay, or donate, or whatever, at any rate, pay money to the site. I've looked at sample sites which have [1] Paypal, [2] WorldPay, [3] IBAN and SWIFT info, [4] forms for credit card info, for them to print and also transmit [5] a secure way, they claim, by which people can input card details and transmit money. With little piccies of cards to illustrate the point. [6] Also cheques. [7] And even notes! What is simplest and most use? Any views? I thought about PayPal but have stalled - I thought I'd use a nationwide account but apparently they don't allow direct debit by paypal and in any case i'd prefer not to let them direct debit, but top it up myself. I do hope there's a simple solution as it's only a minor part of the site.

  Kemistri 22:20 03 Dec 2007

I have no direct experience of online payment management systems, other than being at the "sending" end of them, so to speak. I use Paypal occasionally; I don't know for certain how it works from the retailer's point of view, but I gather that it is quite simple. A question that was raised in that other thread related to what you are going to offer in return for payment. Are you aiming to garner donations, much like people donate to Wikipedia and other non-commercial sites of that type? Will it offer information or downloadable free content, such as applications or media?

HTML knowledge is a basic prerequisite, but is such a simple and fixed thing that you can just learn how to use it and then, in a way, forget about it because it just works. It really has only one job and that is to structure the content in a way that browsers will understand. CSS needs more attention and, occasionally, a little hack to keep things sweet.

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