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Mon, 17 Apr 2006 10:56:10 -0700
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I recommend "elastic" designs, where at least one column resizes 
within a reasonable range of widths, because truly fluid designs are 
usually too difficult for most sites to implement, especially in most 
multi-column designs.

Despite many designers longing for 1024 or 1280 pixels to work in, 
the reality is much more complex. For example, the 800x600 screens 
are not going away, they are simply being replaced by LCDs in many 
workplaces. Also, 320x and 640x wide screens are becoming more 
commonplace with the advent of various handheld web browsing 
platforms.

Ultimately, user preferences should prevail. Designers should not 
dictate that a window *must* be at least 1024, because even if a user 
has a 1024 or larger screen, that does not mean that your site is the 
only thing the user wants on that screen. And horizontal scrolling is 
very annoying, as user testing has shown. That said, there must be a 
practical design range, because most sites can't really be 320 pixels 
wide or smaller.

Being able to avoid horizontal scrolling without having to build two 
or more websites is also very important. Of course some CSS could 
help there if effective screen-size detection can be done without 
relying on JavaScript. So fluidity or elasticity can provide big wins 
for both developers and users.

On the other end of the problem, there are those huge cinema 
displays. I would argue that (almost) nobody really wants to read 
lines of text that are several feet wide. So it's important also to 
limit the initial window opening width to something usable and 
reasonable, when your site is displayed on a large screen (such as 
the size of the previous window, as many browsers do by default). The 
auto-maximized window is very annoying (because it takes control away 
from the user), and it causes usability problems for people who don't 
notice that a new window has covered their existing window(s) 
(because now their back button doesn't work).

Susan Farrell
Nielsen Norman Group


>-----Original Message-----
>Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 10:29 AM
>

[...]

>  Do you all feel that
>sites *should* be fluid and expand with the browser
>window? Or, do you feel this is not important enough
>to warrant the extra effort? Does it make a difference
>for the user?
>
>Regards,
>Jim Griesemer
>http://www.jrgdesignworks.com/

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