Thursday, June 19, 2003 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Liquid

Brent Simmons argues for Web pages with white space on either side of the text, saying that if the text goes from edge to edge he’ll have to make his window narrower in order to read it. I’m the opposite. I prefer pages with flush text so that I can use a narrow window to begin with and not waste any screen space. I don’t like seeing a horizontal scroll thumb that’s enabled only so that I can scroll to the right and see more white space. I find the layout of Daring Fireball particularly odd in that the width of the text doesn’t adjust to the font size. With a large font, there are too few words per line; with a small font, too many. Liquid layouts aren’t perfect, but they do give the reader an extra degree of freedom to play with.

4 Comments

I've been told by art teachers and UI types alike that the right length for a line is 'an alphabet and a half,' 40-odd characters per line.

I'm all over liquid. :)

Absolutely agree! The less design, the better really. Whitespace is useful in print. I mainly use a 12" 1024x768 PowerBook screen. Auto-flowing, whitespace-free layouts win. Daring Fireball's "design" is very troublesome. Any window under 800 pixels width gets a horizontal scroller if you enable the horrible style sheets.

"If Daring Fireball looks like shit in your browser, you’re using a shitty browser that doesn’t support web standards" -- or maybe I'm not using the author's machine! He uses lots of fixed pixel-widths that doesn't belong on the web and the site clearly discriminates users of older software and lower screen resolutions. But it's CSS, you can turn it off like I do. Wonderful plain HTML appears.

Hi GH. I disagree, strongly, with your assessment of the appropriateness of using pixel units for on-screen font sizing on the web. The only signficant problem with doing so is that IE Win users are unable to resize the text. That's IE Win's problem, and is highly unfortunate.

I do agree with Michael, however, that the column widths at Daring Fireball would be better off if they were relative to the font size, rather than hard-coded pixel values. It's on the list.

I didn't mean that the pixel-sized fonts were the problem, I was referring to the layout elements like the navigation menu, which are specified in pixels. My Mozilla setup always uses my preferred fonts and sizes, so I really don't care about fonts. My problem with the layout is that you get to scroll horizontally with window sizes that could fill the whole screen on an older machine...

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