What width?

Stationery Direct

Staff member
As you know we are currently undergoing a complete re-design of the forum, we were initially looking to go with a fluid width site but on reflection it will be much tidier fixed width.

So my question is, what is the maximum fixed width that you feel we can get away with for the main content area of the forum, do people still use 800x600 monitors? The problem we have is designing to an 800 width restricts some of the functions we want to add, we were thinking 1000 pixels wide for the main content area with a fluid width header and footer, any views on this?
960 is a good value. It's used as the foundation for many of the css grids available and allows for a little framing of the content on a 1024 width screen.

800 is now something to be considered rather than designed for. Devices such as notebooks and smart phones with still often have smaller screens than normal, but try to keep the most important stuff on the left towards the top and supporting stuff on right and further down and everything will be fine :)

Cheers Chris :)

The main value in the 960 width is that it is easily divided into columns for grids (hence it's use in grid framework).
Basically we were thinking to the right of the forum to have a bar stretching top to bottom that has links to latest posts, maybe some links to some of your posts on twitter etc, just wondering if we will have enough room as to do this the forum needs to be condensed width ways to accommodate if we are to stick to a 960 width....unless we make the forum fluid :icon_dunno:
We could save space on the left by condensing the user details box? If the extra 40px would be useful, there's no reason not to use 1000.
It's entirely up to you guys :)

I will say one other thing however - having a post box that doesn't get too wide will increase usability by avoiding long line lengths which are harder to read and even harder harder (could of put that better...) to scan.

To quote a passage from "Web Style Guide - Basic design principles for creating web sites".

"The ideal line length for text layout is based on the physiology of the human eye... At normal reading distance the arc of the visual field is only a few inches - about the width of a well-designed column of text, or about 12 words per line. Research shows that reading slows and retention rates fall as line length begins to exceed the ideal width, because the reader then needs to use the muscles of the eye and neck to track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line. If the eye must traverse great distances on the page, the reader is easily lost and must hunt for the beginning of the next line. Quantitative studies show that moderate line lengths significantly increase the legibility of text."

Web Style Guide - Basic Design Principles for Creating Website
Patrick J. Lynch and Sarah Horton
2nd edition, page 97.

(From a useful article)
Please note that I have added links here just for comparison purposes to explain what I am saying - promise, not spamming...

I have quite a few vB forums that I have designed and only one fixed width one (a community that hates change, so I haven't bothered to change it - link). I find that the biggest problem with fixed width is that it jumps out of shape if anyone posts a link image attachment that throws the width sizing out of wack - there are vB hacks that can be added to reduce them, but they can be a bit quirky at times.

Most of my 100% ones work well - I do have one with an advertising banner hack down the right side that takes a little while to load with a bit of a jump (link) . It depends on what you want to add though and how user friendly it is. I think if my advertising banners get heavy at some stage, it might end up being a nightmare... and this forum is a much bigger one with more content, so you will have to see what the load time is with your new right hand side column and whether your server can handle that much 'thinking' to process it.

100% works better if you have the postbit stuff down the side like you have it here, if you use it at the top then the width becomes a bit too much for the eye to cope with.

Personally I prefer the 100% ones though (another link - this one has 2 different 100% styles - and yet another link) - I have a 70" mac laptop and my husband views things on a much bigger PC monitor - it makes sense to view it on different monitors to see how it works and how comfortable it is on the eye.
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