Design Element
Comment on "Visible Borders in Designs"
by Scott Stevenson — May 05
@shaz: I'm not arguing against whitespace, but you have two margins, one inside and one outside the borders, and they are both really large.

I'm open-minded about doing something about the outer border here, and I understand why it's helpful to do so. It was more about drawing the line how long I spend on trying to get every aspect of the CSS to work perfectly.

@Kirk Gray: I hate it when a website takes too many choices away from me [...] Unfortunately, most site designs including most blogs aren't designed with the idea that the user might want a narrower (or wider) viewing experience.

This is something I've thought about and experimented with a lot. My intention is never to take away from choices from the reader arbitrarily. What I'm trying to do is optimize for the most likely case. The conclusion I came to is that the "narrow window" people are in the extreme minority, so when I designed for variable-width text or even just narrow format, it usually just looked wrong.

Psychology also plays a role. I'm convinced that the longer a run of text is vertically, the less likely a visitor is to read any or all of it because they feel they're committing to a big time block. Making the column a bit wider changes the perceived length significantly.

A situation like iPhone is a different case because the device has a preset size. But there's obviously a reason iPhone-specific sites are popping up everywhere.

make the text bigger and easier to read from farther away. Most often the site goes all wonky with text overlapping graphics

This one isn't due to apathy. It's extremely challenging and time-consuming to design for variable text sizes. It's like finishing a painting and then being handed a paintbrush which is twice as large and being asked to create the same painting again.

It's so difficult to do well without compromising the experience for 90% of visitors that most designers just punt on it. It would be relatively easy if everything scaled, but the problem is that that images stay the same size while text scales, creating a vast mismatch between the two.

Some part of this obviously has to do with the style of design. If there's minimal layout to begin with, then it's obviously easy. But that's not what everyone is setting out to do.
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