In Maximizing Profits With Website Design and Layout: Part I, we looked at some examples of screen resolutions, and content placement. In Maximizing Profits With Website Design and Layout: Part II, we looked at how banner size affected the “sweet spot” being above or below the fold. In part III we’re going to look at liquid versus static.
When we left off we had a page that was pushing the limits of keeping the profitable elements above the fold in both an 800 and 1024 layout. This was done using a fixed width page layouts.
Lets look at what happens when we change it to a liquid layout (if you don’t believe in the power of CSS compare the files and see how easy it is for me to change this with very few lines of code)(example 4example 5).
Now because we had to go to % instead of fixed pixels I think the 800 looks worse. You could play with using a hybrid of percentages and fixed width side rails, but that’s more complex than I want to get into right now. The 1024 looks a little better because you have more on the page. Lastly what about all the spoiled brats of the world like me who have big monitors, how does it look to them.
I think that looks great, but notice that page also has a more than a minimum amount of copy (over 200 words). So if you’re going to be building a website with a decent amount of copy on a page, then liquid layout is definitely your best choice. However if your copy is going to be less than stellar quality and posses a Zen like brevity, go with a fixed with to make it “feel” longer, and layout nicer. If you were to drop down to two columns instead of three, the length of the copy is going to play a larger role so make sure you are going to have plenty of it if you do want to go liquid.
So to wrap everything up in a nice little package here my recommendations
- Masthead – Just the essentials, smaller is better. Avoid big graphics and other designer tricks and elements just to make an impact
- Body – Keep the money items in the prime real estate above the fold and as far left as possible.
- Navigation – If it’s in the masthead keep it small, if it’s in the body keep it to the right
- Page Width – Are you going to have lots of content, if so go ahead and fill the whole screen, otherwise stick with a fixed width to make it feel longer