Poll: Do you prefer fixed width sites or fluid/filling width sites?

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Site Polls Thread, Do you prefer fixed width sites or fluid/filling width sites? in EduGeek Stuff; Do you prefer having a fixed width site which really makes design/planning much easier and can ensure the layout is ...
  1. #1

    ZeroHour's Avatar
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    Do you prefer fixed width sites or fluid/filling width sites?

    Do you prefer having a fixed width site which really makes design/planning much easier and can ensure the layout is consitent or do you prefer the page *filling* the browsers width which is nice although harder?
    I personally like fluid/filling widths but it does make design annoying.

    NOTE: this only covers desktop use for now, mobiles should not be considered with this question, its from a design/practical point with desktop full use.
    Last edited by ZeroHour; 7th July 2011 at 09:59 PM.

  2. #2

    nephilim's Avatar
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    Fluid, as it fits for my mobile (when I want to look at the full site and not the mobile), my tablet and my laptop

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    ZeroHour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    Fluid, as it fits for my mobile (when I want to look at the full site and not the mobile), my tablet and my laptop
    Fixed to be fair would be fine on mobile too as they all go based on min width to fit it all in which would be a fixed width, desktop would be different though.

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    Fixed width as it's nice to know no matter what res the site is being viewed on, everyone will see the same.

  5. #5


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    Forums - fluid
    Just about everything else - fixed

    But thats probably because fluid sites are generally badly designed.

  6. Thanks to j17sparky from:

    SimpleSi (8th July 2011)

  7. #6

    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Fluid fluid fluid fluid fluid fluid fluid fluid

    If you're doing fixed designs, you're not a web designer, you're a magazine designer. Nothing more annoying than a widescreen monitor with a stripe of content down the middle and over half the screen wasted.

    I know it's a pain to design fluid right - believe me, I know - but the satisfaction that comes from Doing It Right is well worth the faff with floats and percentages. Ideally everything sized in em as well so that as I bump the text size up, the layout scales to accommodate it.

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    Pottsey's Avatar
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    SYSMAN_MK said "Fixed width as it's nice to know no matter what res the site is being viewed on, everyone will see the same."
    There is a down side to that. I hate fixed width with a passion as on large screens they look terrible. On some fixed width sites if I stick the two black borders together I end up with 1350x1440 resolution black box on my screen with only a tiny strip of the forum in the centre.
    Fluid is the only way to go on large screens.

  9. #8

    webman's Avatar
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    I believe it depends entirely on the type and content of the site - there is no hard and fast rule that one is necessarily better than the other.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    I believe it depends entirely on the type and content of the site - there is no hard and fast rule that one is necessarily better than the other.
    I fear I am going to have to stick my neck on the line here (and risk the negative rep as well, probably) - the only true web design is fluid design. The idea of complete control over appearance on all platforms is a dead-tree philosophy. If you're designing for the web, you need to accept that you don't know exactly how it will appear on every device, and that you can't make it look identical on every screen; instead, your job is to make it as good as can be everywhere, design it to break gracefully, and make the most of whatever screen is being used to view it.

    I may be being snobbish here, but years of HCI research and web design gubbins in the course of my degree has made me a bit militant on the subject. The only (only) time a fixed width design is acceptable is for an intranet web app where you know exactly how it will be accessed; for any public website, though, you don't have that, and your job as the web designer isn't to take the easy way out, but to do your best to make the site the best it can be for everyone.

    /puts the asbestos suit on

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    Forums = Fluid
    Other websites = "Responsive" designs are the best IMO since the layout adapts to the size of the users screen depending upon their browser size/resolution. Examples here and here.

    As others have said, the problem with most fixed-width websites is they cater to the lowest common denominator which typically means people with larger screens have huge amounts of wasted space either on the right of the content or either side. e.g.


  12. #11

    webman's Avatar
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    I disagree... that's what things such as CSS media queries, and frameworks like Skeleton and Less are for.

    BBC, Yahoo, Google Search, Facebook, Twitter - arguably some of the most popular sites online - employ a fixed-width layout. Some may mobile-specific layouts or interfaces that are entirely separate experiences tailored for those devices - not just "fitting the size" of the screen though - but doing common sense things. Such as reducing images or using lower-resolution ones (for bandwidth), and making links/actions bigger.

    Why does the whole of the space have to be filled with something? Use of negative space as a design feature?

    Just making it fluid doesn't mean it's the best for everyone, IMO

  13. #12


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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    I disagree...
    I probably didn't explain it very well in my post, but I agree with you WebMan.

    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    Why does the whole of the space have to be filled with something?
    It doesn't have to be, but similarly there's no need to have the fixed-width layout stop at 960px for everyone. As you say, we have things such as CSS media queries now.

  14. #13

    webman's Avatar
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    Yes, definitely - responsive designs are preferable and offer the greatest flexibility for visitors

  15. #14

    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    I disagree... that's what things such as CSS media queries, and frameworks like Skeleton and Less are for.

    BBC, Yahoo, Google Search, Facebook, Twitter - arguably some of the most popular sites online - employ a fixed-width layout. Some may mobile-specific layouts or interfaces that are entirely separate experiences tailored for those devices - not just "fitting the size" of the screen though - but doing common sense things. Such as reducing images or using lower-resolution ones (for bandwidth), and making links/actions bigger.

    Why does the whole of the space have to be filled with something? Use of negative space as a design feature?

    Just making it fluid doesn't mean it's the best for everyone, IMO
    Negative space in design is often woefully underused, and in all honesty when I design a page I usually have a gutter down either side of the page - but I don't use a fixed width column that caters to the smallest screen size and let the negative space grow. If it's being used as a design element it needs to be in proportion, and if you're using proportions for your layout, it's a fluid design

    @media should always be used, but when screen sizes on full-fat Windows range from netbooks at 1024 wide to 30" monsters at 2560 wide, you can't accommodate everyone with a fixed width design.

    I just feel like fixed width in no way makes the most of the medium - it implies the Designer As God, an authoritative view that I don't think mingles well with the (theoretically) egalitarian nature of the web. It's nowhere near as severe a crime, but fixed-width is on the same spectrum as those websites that insist on popping up a fixed size window to make sure you absolutely cannot experience their site in any way but the way they intended.

    This is more or less a matter of design religion though, I fear, and I'd rather have discussions than consensus any day of the week anyway!

  16. #15
    Pottsey's Avatar
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    Webman said “Why does the whole of the space have to be filled with something? Use of negative space as a design feature? ”
    It doesn’t but to have over half the screen empty is wrong or another way to put it a 1350x1440 resolution black box is poor site design. Plus on larger screens you often have a higher DPI which can make fixed width sites hard to read.

    I have no problem with fluid width set to around 80% of the screen as a little empty space can be good. But it differently gets to a stage where too much empty space looks bad.

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