Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 11th Aug 2005 17:30 UTC, submitted by anonymous
General Development Do you think the pixel is the only unit of measurement for building graphical displays? Come on, you can measure better than that! This article offers tips for user-friendly HTML layout and interface design, and explains why pixels aren't always the best unit for the job.
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He is overly concerned about how websites will look on, say, a 1600x1200 screen (which only a minority of people uses) but does not acknowledge that layout is an important aspect of visual communication.

You're wrong on one front: wide-screen displays are increasingly common among laptop users, and there's an increasing number of laptops out there. Speaking as someone with a large screen, it is frustrating when you have to read an excessively small column of text when more could be comfortably fit into the page.

As regards layout, it's perfectly easy to lay out the items in your site in a resizable manner (see and try changing the font-size). One "subliminal" effect of layout is that if it is unsatisfactory for the user, they may question the professional ability of the organisation the website represents.

Full control on a page's layout and a perfectly dynamic design do not go along very well together in most cases, however. You have to decide for either of the two.

For websites that are simply brochures, this is true. For websites with content (e.g. e-business sites, radio-station sites with additional content, newspaper sites, etc.) it is more important to have a dynamic design so that users can easily read the content.

As regards brochure sites, it is possible to design them with dynamic layout (though obviously not for photographic images). It's just quite hard, and requires CSS skills that are not common within industry as it is currently constituted.

don't get the hype about vector graphics at all. Scaling the very same vector icon from 1600x1200 pixels down to 16x16 so it fits inside a file list, is and will remain a pipe dream unless the icon is barely more than a simple geometric form in the first place.

From 1600x1200 to 16x16 is unrealistic and unfair, no-one would every try such a degree of shrinkage (though expansion would work quite well). Given that most images on sites are not photographic, and most non-photographic images are designed using vector graphics applications like Illustrator, stating that vector graphics are unwieldy makes no sense. The "CrystalSVG" icon-set for the KDE desktop demonstrates conclusively that sophisticated resizable images can be created using vector graphics.

Sigh. First the author says that "text in images" is bloat, later he complains that people optimize file sizes by cutting one big 180kb image up into several smaller ones which are half the size combined. I find his argumentation to be inconsistent.

Using images to show text does increase the total download size of your site. Really images of text should be saved for the title and the title alone. And they do cause readability troubles. Using the "alt" attribute will make life somewhat easier for users of text-mode browsers (such as blind users), however it won't put the text in context (e.g. a heading). Further, the alt text is rarely read out by screen-readers, and suggested workarounds (e.g. h{n} tags made invisible using display or visibility CSS attributes) have been shown not to work.

The web should have been a great resource for people with visual impediments (not just full blindness, but even poor vision in general), but sites designed solely for graphical appeasment on a limited set of devices have prevented this.

Lastly, can I say, that as someone forced to work at 1280x1024 by my monitor (it's LCD) the biggest trouble I have with the web is sites that set font-sizes to 12pts as it looks good at 1024x768. It looks tiny to me, all my screen fonts start at 14pts, and as LCD prices drop, I'm won't be in the minority for much longer.

The web is changing, it's time to move on and join the next generation of web-designers.

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