feedback on new wiki theme

Neal McBurnett neal at
Mon Sep 8 23:12:23 UTC 2008

On Mon, Sep 08, 2008 at 05:45:42PM -0500, Matthew Nuzum wrote:
> > I disagree - the problem with fixed width is that at some point we have to
> > make assumptions as to the screen size used to access as well as how the
> > reader wants to read the information. I feel that these both should be left
> > to the reader not pre-defined by the writer.
> Sometimes I see a fixed-width page and I just feel like it looks so
> lonely sitting there in the middle of such wide margins to either
> side. Especially on a single column site like this one. But when I
> stop looking at the design of the site and just start using it I like
> it much better. The narrow column width really pulls you into the
> site's content. (and seriously, its not that narrow with a content
> width of 820px and a column width of 875px)
> I've used this theme for a bit now and browsed many different pages
> and feel that the it works very nicely on a content-heavy page. I've
> maximized my browser window (1280x800) to hopefully get a taste of the
> pain experienced by people who use their browser this way typically
> and honestly I think that overall its an improvement.

It is common to focus on a fixed width design as "narrow", but for
many users the big issue is that it is "fixed".  On a wide page it
looks narrow, but on a narrow page it is nearly unusable since it is
wider than the window, and requires using the horizontal scroll bar to
read each line.

As others have mentioned, the fact that the user can't control the
width of the content is the real issue, and the reason fluid designs
are very popular.

This is of course famously a problem for folks with narrow screens
(e.g. handheld computers).  But it is also often a problem for folks
with big screens.

E.g. I often use the very practical info in a wiki interactively,
looking back and forth between a narrow web page on the left and a
terminal window on the right, and wanting as much material, and page
height, as I can get.  A fixed design thwarts that plan.

So as earlier posters have said, what is wrong with keeping the
fluidity of the current design, letting the user choose how wide to
make their browser window, and thus how long their lines of text
should be?  The rest of the design can match, where
graphics and other design considerations can be an issue, but for a
wiki, I think fixed-width is the wrong choice.

Neal McBurnett       

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list