I’ve spent the past two mornings (plus more time previously) working on an expandable layout for the Visual Adventures website. An expandable layout means that as the browser window is resized, the content will grow or shrink to fit. This initially sounds wonderful and you might be wondering Ã…â€œwhy aren ‘ t all web sites like this? Well, here is the answer. Even in a text only web site, the look will change dramatically in a 50% to 100% increase in size. It may likely become less readable if there is too much horizontal text or if it is squashed down becoming a skinny vertical tower of text. Then of course you add images into that layout and all hell starts breaking loose.
Instead of everyone having the same web experience with an expandable layout, just the opposite happens. Everybody has a different experience. Being able to adjust your own experience with the web was one of the Ã…â€œamazing things about it. By changing your screen resolution or default text size, you can customize your web content to how you want it, in theory anyway. Very few users know how to even change their screen resolution or that it can be done. Even fewer know that you can change the default text size in your internet browser. As a result, most of the people who need these features have no idea that they even exist.
On top of the joys of different screen resolutions, there are also different web browsers that display sites differently from one another. On top of that, the different versions of various web browsers also display sites different from one another. This is getting exponential here. In case designing one web site was not enough, you now sometimes have to create several versions of a site for various browsers/versions.
What ‘ s a web designer to do? We ‘ d like to design so that everybody can view the web site right? Well, not really. Something ‘ s gotta somewhere. There ‘ s a balance between cool, usable, expandable, and the amount of time that is needed to build a site(s).
Note to prospective clients: there are ways to accomplish everything; it ‘ s just a matter of finding the solution that works for you.
Hopefully I have found some sort of balance with the Visual Adventures site. I ‘ m sure I ‘ ll have new ideas for it in a few weeks. Of course it may be a few months before I get the time to try them out. In the meantime, I learned a lot about the various do ‘ s and don ‘ ts of creating expandable layouts.