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Liquid versus fixed layouts in web design

internetOn the web the designer has no control over several factors, including the size of the browser window, the web browser used, the input devices used (mouse, touch screen, voice command, text, cell phone number pad, etc.) and the size and characteristics of available fonts.

Some designers choose to control the appearance of the elements on the screen by using specific width designations. This control may be achieved through the use of a HTML table-based design, or through the use of CSS. Whenever the text, images, and layout of a design do not change as the browser changes, this is referred to as a fixed width design. Proponents of fixed width design prefer the control over the look and feel of the site and the precision placement of objects on the page. Other designers choose a liquid design. A liquid design is one, like Wikipedia, where the design moves to flow content into the whole screen, or a portion of the screen, no matter what the size of the browser window. Proponents of liquid design prefer to use all the screen space available. Liquid design can be achieved through the use of CSS, by avoiding styling the page altogether, or by using HTML tables set to a percentage of the page. Both liquid and fixed design developers must make decisions about how the design should degrade on higher and lower screen resolutions. Sometimes the pragmatic choice is made to flow the design between a minimum and a maximum width. This allows the designer to avoid coding for the browser choices making up the long tail, while still using all available screen space.

Similar to liquid layout is the optional fit to window feature with Adobe Flash content. This is a fixed layout that optimally scales the content of the page without changing the arrangement or text wrapping when the browser is resized.

Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses materials from the Wikipedia.

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