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Design considerations for fixed layouts

From: CSS: Page Layouts

Video: Design considerations for fixed layouts

In this chapter, we're going to focus on building fixed layouts, and we've worked with fixed layouts already, and for the most part we've discussed all the concepts that you need to know in order to create them. So our focus here will be on defining exactly what a fixed layout is, and on the issues that you're going to need to consider when you're thinking about using them. So fixed layouts are layouts that are set to an overall fixed size that doesn't react to changes like browsers being resized or device-orientation changes. In fact, in their pure form, fixed layouts really don't care about things like the width of the browser window, what device they are on, or how the site is being viewed.

Design considerations for fixed layouts

In this chapter, we're going to focus on building fixed layouts, and we've worked with fixed layouts already, and for the most part we've discussed all the concepts that you need to know in order to create them. So our focus here will be on defining exactly what a fixed layout is, and on the issues that you're going to need to consider when you're thinking about using them. So fixed layouts are layouts that are set to an overall fixed size that doesn't react to changes like browsers being resized or device-orientation changes. In fact, in their pure form, fixed layouts really don't care about things like the width of the browser window, what device they are on, or how the site is being viewed.

Most fixed-width layouts start with an overall width value that's applied to the body tag or to a wrapper element that surrounds the site's content. The side is then centered or aligned based on personal preference. Interior spacing is then defined for container elements at values that divide up the available space. Element spacing is typically controlled through the use of margins or padding, and the resulting values will typically add up to the overall defined width. Most fixed-width sites are designed with the desktop in mind. As such, the average target size has increased over the years.

Now, originally designers targeted 640x480 monitors, which increased to 1024x768, and has currently grown to occasionally targeting 1280x960. Regardless of which size you're targeting, most designers set the width to a value slightly smaller than the target size to allow for things like browser chrome or maybe floating browser windows that aren't maximized. Many layouts currently target around 960 pixels, which would still be visible on the 1024x768 monitor.

Now, like any technique, there are pros and cons to using fixed layouts. Fixed layouts tend to be easier to create and require less code than other layout types. You're only targeting one size, so you have less to consider when designing and writing the layout. You also have a greater amount of control over the visual aspect of your design. Since elements are fixed in place, it's a little easier to create pixel-precise layouts that look exactly the way that you want them to. Because they don't change, they also provide a consistent look and feel for the user.

There are of course some downsides to using fixed layouts. Their very nature means that they don't adapt to other devices or smaller browser windows, meaning that users sometimes have a less-than-optimal experience, due to increased scrolling or content being cut off. On larger monitors, smaller fixed layouts can look lost, with large amounts of empty space surrounding the layout. They are also tied to the very rigid nature. An element-spacing problem that might even go undetected on a flexible layout could potentially break a fixed layout, meaning that small changes to layouts have to be very thoroughly tested.

Now, as a designer, you should keep all these points in mind when deciding on whether to use a fixed layout or not. The recent explosion of mobile devices means that fixed layouts to some degree ignore a significant part of a site's potential user base. Later on, we're going to explore creating flexible layouts that change when resized and responsive layouts that change based on factors such as screen size, orientation, and resolution. For now, let's take a closer look at building fixed layouts.

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CSS: Page Layouts

71 video lessons · 40114 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 4m 20s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      3m 26s
  2. 1h 39m
    1. Box model review
      8m 47s
    2. Calculating element dimensions
      11m 11s
    3. Understanding margin collapse
      7m 59s
    4. Calculating em values
      7m 41s
    5. Calculating percentage values
      7m 51s
    6. Normal document flow
      13m 3s
    7. Controlling element display
      8m 53s
    8. Using CSS Resets
      7m 11s
    9. Fixed, fluid, and responsive layouts
      9m 9s
    10. CSS debugging tools
      6m 46s
    11. Using the Firebug Inspector and the WebKit Web Inspector
      11m 5s
  3. 53m 15s
    1. Page design workflow
      3m 6s
    2. Page design tools
      4m 56s
    3. Determining page structure
      7m 18s
    4. Creating image assets
      8m 58s
    5. Creating initial page structure
      7m 3s
    6. Adding meaning with classes and IDs
      5m 23s
    7. Structuring content with HTML5
      6m 6s
    8. Building internal structure
      10m 25s
  4. 1h 36m
    1. Floating elements
      7m 50s
    2. Clearing floats
      7m 28s
    3. Containing floats
      7m 50s
    4. Clearfix technique
      10m 38s
    5. Floating inline elements
      14m 34s
    6. Two-column floated layouts
      8m 17s
    7. Three-column floated layouts
      11m 30s
    8. Column height considerations
      7m 3s
    9. Creating equal-height columns
      10m 42s
    10. Floats: Lab
      5m 25s
    11. Floats: Solution
      5m 21s
  5. 51m 42s
    1. Relative positioning
      7m 59s
    2. Absolute positioning
      8m 59s
    3. Fixed positioning
      4m 23s
    4. Controlling stacking order
      8m 31s
    5. Clipping content
      8m 21s
    6. Controlling content overflow
      5m 38s
    7. Positioning elements: Lab
      3m 59s
    8. Positioning elements: Solution
      3m 52s
  6. 48m 46s
    1. Design considerations for fixed layouts
      3m 28s
    2. Establishing the layout grid
      7m 57s
    3. Defining column spacing
      9m 30s
    4. Applying the grid through CSS
      8m 56s
    5. Creating grid-based assets
      8m 26s
    6. Grid design resources
      6m 22s
    7. Building fixed layouts: Lab
      4m 7s
  7. 44m 35s
    1. Designing for flexible layouts
      2m 30s
    2. Calculating percentage values
      8m 45s
    3. Setting flexible width values
      6m 6s
    4. Making images flexible
      8m 10s
    5. Setting minimum and maximum widths
      7m 24s
    6. Building flexible layouts: Lab
      4m 53s
    7. Building flexible layouts: Solution
      6m 47s
  8. 49m 36s
    1. Responsive layout overview
      3m 49s
    2. Using media queries
      7m 16s
    3. Organizing styles
      8m 39s
    4. Making content responsive
      8m 33s
    5. Mobile design considerations
      7m 32s
    6. Building responsive layouts: Lab
      4m 23s
    7. Building responsive layouts: Solution
      9m 24s
  9. 1h 22m
    1. Creating multi-column text
      6m 36s
    2. Using borders to enhance design
      13m 59s
    3. Rounding corners
      6m 56s
    4. Adding drop shadows
      10m 35s
    5. Working with opacity
      6m 8s
    6. Utilizing the background property
      15m 5s
    7. Working with CSS sprites
      7m 58s
    8. Enhancing page design: Lab
      6m 22s
    9. Enhancing page design: Solution
      8m 38s
  10. 6m 25s
    1. Additional resources
      6m 25s

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