A List Apart

17th September 2005

Why is A List Apart fixed width?


  1. Steve Williams 17.9.05 XFN: contact colleague #001207

    …Is this a quiz? The last ALA design was fixed width too. My guess is that the *owners* are super-sensitive about pagination so a fixed width gives ultimate control.
    >>Am I okay to post here as I see your comments are drawing from XFN?

  2. Andy Hume 17.9.05 XFN: me #001208

    Hi Steve, you’re very welcome to post here. You’ll notice I’ve added you to my XFN database. :)

    I’m assuming by ‘pagination’ you just mean control of how people experience the layout. Let me know if I’ve got that wrong.

    Good answer as well incidently. Let’s see what others come up with. ;)

  3. Hayo Bethlehem 17.9.05 XFN: friend colleague #001209

    ahh, because.. Fixed width allows for stricter control over the design.

    Liquid being nice and all that, It is still severely limited by the absense of proper scalable images and, of course, proper css support in some unnamed large version 6 browser.

  4. Andy Hume 17.9.05 XFN: me #001210

    “…stricter control over the design.”


    …It is still severely limited…”

    Nah… I don’t buy that. There are ways around all those problems, and this was built by Eric Meyer remember. I doubt they sat down and said, “it’s too hard, let’s just make it fixed”.

  5. Graham Bancroft 17.9.05 XFN: friend colleague #001211

    Because they don’t like people who have 15″ monitors or 17″ with a sidebar such as sage open.

    Or because the horizontal scroll bar was feeling left out.

  6. Andy Hume 17.9.05 XFN: me #001212

    Both of those are possible answers, Graham. Unlikely, but possible. ;)

  7. Anton 17.9.05 XFN: friend colleague #001213

    JSM explaines that exact question here:

    ALA 4.0 actually started out as fluid, but was changed to fixed after the first or second round of designs revisions I did.

    I honestly don’t think liquid layouts are the last step in evolution for web layouts. They are a fantastic option, and an even better solution as a stepping-stone to accommodate larger resolutions. The content columns still maintain comfortable line lengths for reading. ALA is supposed to be one of the grandaddy accessible sites, and it still is. But something many people are missing is that ALA is also one of the more trailblazing sites around. Remember To Hell With Bad Browsers?

  8. Andy Hume 17.9.05 XFN: me #001214

    Yeah, it’s interesting that quotation because Andy posed the exact same question I am to the man himself.

    But I don’t really understand his answer.

    “I honestly don’t think liquid layouts are the last step in evolution for web layouts.”

    OK. I kind of think they might be actually, but I take your point.

    “They are a fantastic option, and an even better solution as a stepping-stone to accommodate larger resolutions.”

    Definitely. That’s what I like about liquid. They are a fantastic option. So, why didn’t you use them, again?

    The question still un-answered we move on to line-length and accessibility.

    “Remember To Hell With Bad Browsers?”

    Remember A Dao of Web Design

  9. Anton 17.9.05 XFN: friend colleague #001215

    Hmm… good point. Although I did notice the lack of clarity, I still thought it necessary to draw attention to it.

    Off-topic: you should add a special blockquote style for comments. :)

    Back on-topic: It’s possible that there might have been concern with ultra-high resolutions. At work I have a 23-inch Apple Cinema HD running 1900px wide… I really dislike liquid layouts when I happen to have the browser wider than even 3/4 that width.
    It tends to make line lengths look a bit out of control.
    At least, until we can get a commonality going on max and min-widths. You know?

  10. Andy Hume 17.9.05 XFN: me #001216

    Yeah, one day I may get around to fixing the blockquote Anton - along with a host of other rubbish in this site (please don’t look around too hard!)

    Sounds like a pretty sweet display that.

    So the potential answer to the question is this:

    A List Apart is fixed width… so people that have very large resolution monitors, don’t have to make their browser window smaller.

    OK. I’ll add it to the list.

  11. Steve Williams 18.9.05 XFN: contact colleague #001217

    Thanks Andy :)

    Yep, I meant how columns and text lines run into each other and how whitespace is organised - both are easier to control irrespective of display size and resolution if you fix widths.

    Maybe liquid layouts not being the final step is a nod in the direction of the CSS3 column selector???

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