For years, there has been a debate on fixed width versus a flowing, liquid layout. Also, during these years, I have been on the liquid layout side of the fence. After considering things, I have decided that fixed is the way to go for gobs of text.
Just like how it is easier to read text split into paragraphs, it is also easier to read (and scan) text which is set to an optimal width. Constraining text to a narrow width allows one to read things quickly, and with ease.
There are other added benefits as well. When the designer of a Web site knows the dimensions of a page, then graphics can be designed to specifically fit in an optimal way. In a liquid layout, images are haphazardly tossed in and the layout control is up to multiple variables. Often, the graphics for these flowing websites are mistakenly placed; not where the author intended.
Therefore, for the above points, I am going to, from now own, recommend a fixed layout for any sort of publication, unless a free-flowing liquid layout makes sense. Above are the reasons why I finally converted my site (by default) to be fixed width. As I do have other components to my site (such as the image gallery), I have designed it in such a way as to utilize the screen real estate for specific pages by calling an alternate CSS id, which, in turn, makes the page take up the maximum area allowed.
As I have had some people in a previous news item state that they like liquid layouts better, I have made an alternate version of my default theme available so that the screen-filling edition of the pages can be seen on every page by default. (Isn’t CSS nifty? *smile*)
While bringing back the theme selector, I have also added my previous default theme to the dropdown form at the side of the page.
Whether to use fixed or flowing layouts depends on the content and audience of the site. I now strongly believe that if the site is a periodical in form (magazine, newspaper, or weblog), then going fixed and thinking about multi-column should be considerations. If it is a utility “web application”, then filling up the space as much as possible probably makes the most sense.
The debate itself reminds me of the letterbox versus pan-and-scan argument among movie buffs. In that debate, however, everyone knows that the widescreen letterbox version is better for movies, right? (:
Note: If the layout is messed up (for whatever reason), you can reset it to the default style or change it by using the theme dropdown on the left.
By-the-way: I have a desktop of 1600×1200, but I do not use my browser full screen. I keep it at around 800 pixels wide. It is even at that width on my laptops, which aren’t nearly as hi-resolution, either. Using a browser full-screen at resolutions higher than 1024×768 is a bit silly, really. Either the resolution should be lower or a person using a desktop that large should be multitasking a bit more. (: