why can't this site be made wider?

  dobbin 17:10 14 Apr 2009

I have paid [unfortunately up front] to have my web site redesigned in order to give it a fresh look. I am bitterly disappointed by the end result:- click here
It looks very narrow when viewed on anything over a 14 inch screen. On a large screen it looks like a strip of ribbon down the middle of the screen.
The web designer says he has widened it as much as he can and can do no more about it.
Can someone explain to me why it can't be made to expand to fill the screen like previous sites I have had. I wonder if he is trying to pull the wool over my eyes to save himself more work.

  Kemistri 19:20 14 Apr 2009

That's the second time today that I have clicked on a link in this forum and felt like I had been transported back to the '90s. But that had little to do with the content width, which is in very general terms perfectly acceptable - even if the design leaves a lot to be desired.

Let's cover a few fundamentals about viewport widths, though. For one thing, only any fixed-width layout must be able to cater for a wide range of common viewport sizes, with current professional consensus generally agreeing to 1024 and upwards. For another thing, very few owners of large screens sit there with their browsers filling the screen - that defeats one of the key reasons for having a wide screen. Thirdly, there is a practical limit (based on usability experience principles) for body text width and this naturally restricts many layouts. These points combine to mean that this is not particularly abnormal by fixed width standards and neither is it unexpected.

With regard to your situation, you should not have paid upfront (apart from a deposit, the value of which will vary) but you and the developer also had a responsibility to each other to draw up a detailed contract and project brief. If you didn't provide a detailed a project brief, or at least work with the developer to create one, then you didn't help yourself at all. I am not sure what to make of the comment that you attributed to the developer - if that is what he claims, then he is not being fully truthful and transparent about why, but maybe he has his reasons. As I eluded to above, the restrictions are practical rather than technical and your site has not yet hit the limit for a fixed width. For one thing, it has a horrendous lack of white space....

  dobbin 08:15 15 Apr 2009

Thanks for your comments Kemistri. I don't like the design at all either, your comment about the '90's says it all. However design aside why does the width have to be fixed?

With hindsight I should not have paid upfront but I had worked with these people before and was previously very satisfied; however personnel change and I should have realised this.

  garvins 09:48 15 Apr 2009


I just viewed your site, yes, it's not that good, i don't know even what's going in my first glance, it's better to add more text content highlighted in flash or somewhere else to get it more attractive to visitors

  dobbin 09:56 15 Apr 2009

I agree with you garvins, don't worry I have scrapped it. But its good to get feedback so I don't make the same mistake again and know what to ask for in future when briefing a designer, as I really do not have the time, let alone the skills to do it myself although I enjoy dabbling.

  Kemistri 13:04 15 Apr 2009

"why does the width have to be fixed?"

It doesn't have to be, per se. But as I wrote above, maybe your developer has his reasons. With regard to that particular decision, I can only speak for myself: choosing between fixed and elastic depends on a number of factors that include the nature, quantity and layout of content; the kind of style that is required; even the target market (which of course influences not only the perception and expectation but also the likely choice of browser and platform). The majority of projects will favour a fixed layout, but it is not a set in stone rule.

  dobbin 13:55 15 Apr 2009

kemistri, you are beginning to talk 'corporate speak'! What would you consider my developer's reason for a fixed with; I won't get the truth out of him so I would be grateful if you could enlighten me.

  dobbin 08:02 16 Apr 2009

Thanks fourm member, that really explains it well. In the end it comes down to commercial pressures, its cheaper and safer to opt for fixed width. Its interesting what you say about the site being designed for 800 x 600; it's what I suspected; I think they had an old template kicking around and quickly threw it together, cutting and pasting from my original site. I suppose there's no quick fix to convert a site to variable width?

  barryoneoff.co.uk 01:14 19 Apr 2009

is that only the text will be variable; the graphics will stay the same size. As said by others earlier in this thread, with fixed width you see what others will see, no matter what size screen it is viewed on.

If you have a photo or thumbnail that fits nicely into ten lines of text and you think it looks good, you know that every visitor will see it like that with fixed width. If you make it variable someone with an extra wide screen may have all the text stretched into a single line, but the image will remain the same size. It would then look extremely amateurish.
If you reverse this, and design for the wide screen it will look terrible on a smaller screen. In my (amateur) opinion fixed width and centered is always the best option.

  dobbin 08:21 20 Apr 2009

Thanks barryoneoff for the advice. Since I bought up the topic I have been looking much more critically at both fixed width and expanding sites and am still even more undecided. I understand now why fixed width is so popular.

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