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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the different layout styles (fixed / floating / variable)

Each website, or indeed each page on a website can be displayed differently. It depends on what type of content and how much there is to display. There are three primary types of website layout:

Fixed (The standard style layout)

This is by far the most common layout design used because it guarantees the webpage will look exactly as designed. What this means is the width of the website is set to a fixed amount and therefore the content displayed in that fixed width has a known position. Many websites like this idea because having a fixed width means they can ensure the graphic layout displays exactly as designed.

There are however some drawbacks. The primary one being what width do you assign? If you set the width to what is your default computer resolution (such as 1920 x 1080) then the website will display poorly on a computer that is using a much lower desktop resolution (such as 1024 x 768). This means it is always advisable to define the width to what you consider to be the minimum resolution you wish to support. Windows 95 / Windows 98 used a default resolution of 640 x 480 or 800 x 600. Windows XP uses a default of 1024 x 768. As more and more people start using flat panel display screens (instead of CRT screens) the default resolutions will continue to rise. We however consider that for a fixed width the website should display correctly at 1024 x 768 because windows XP is still the primary Operating System currently in use.

The other major draw back is when someone using a higher resolution screen views your website. If their desktop resolution is 1920 x 1080 and viewing your website at full screen, your website would only use 1024 of the available width, leaving a whole 896 pixels (448 pixels per side) empty. This tends to make the website look quite lost in the center of the page.

An example of a Fixed Width website that we have created is Doug Kwok Art.

Floating (The more friendly style layout)

Floating format is the primary layout design that we create. Here there is no fixed width, instead the website will grow to use all the available width. It is still important to ensure that nothing on the page is larger than 1024 width, to ensure it displays correct on a standard XP computer, but when viewed on higher resolution (such as 1920 x 1080) the web pages will expand. The benefit of this is it helps reduce the amount of vertical scrolling that maybe required on pages that have lots of content.

The disadvantages of floating format is that you can not be guaranteed of how the layout will look as everyone could be using different resolutions and screen sizes. Also when the pages grow to use all available width it tends to cause the lines of text to be quite long making them a little more difficult to read as most people are use to reading newspaper type column widths.

We still feel that the slight issues with using floating formation are easily outweighed by the advantages of using all the available screen space.

Our website is using floating format width as is many others we have created such as Austech Medical.

Variable (The best style layout)

Variable is an idea where we add some intelligence into the web pages themselves so they can identify what screen resolution each viewer is using and then adjust the page layout accordingly. The benefits of this mean that you can regain some control of how the pages will be displayed while also utilizing all the space that is available.

The disadvantage of this design is that not everyone views web pages with some of the features enabled in their web browser which this design requires active, so a fallback design also needs to be incorporated.

As a solution to this drawback, another option is to define the content into columns that at low (default) resolution of 1024 x 768 they will display one column, but then when displayed at high resolution such as 1920 x 1080 they will display two columns. This still allows the content to utilize more of the screen space, while at the same time reducing the length of the text lines to a more manageable length (usually 45% of the screen width)

We have utilized this idea on our Packages Web page and to a greater degree on Realistic Reviews.

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