August 09, 2007

Bad Design

I recently switched my monitor's resolution from 1280x1024 to 1600x1200. Overall it's been an improvement, but there have been some problems. Windows XP doesn't take hints about minimum font-size seriously. Setting the "Display -> Appearance -> Font Size" control to "Extra Large Fonts" (one of only three choices) improves some things, but not others. Try resizing this image until the text on the tabs is 2mm high on your screen:

Hard to read, isn't it?

Firefox, thankfully, has a minimum font size setting which overrides the idiots who are still setting fixed font sizes on their web pages. (12px? What were you thinking, Jimmy?) Unfortunately, there are a ton of websites using fixed-width columns. Most are designed for 1024x768, and look very narrow on 1600x1200. The increased font size (so I don't have to squint) reduces the readability of fixed-width columns by wraping every sentence across several lines. This is particularly annoying when a website puts a single article into two columns, together less than half the width of my screen, forcing me to scroll down frequently as I read and to scroll way back up to the top of the page halfway through the article.

Whatever happened to using percentages and relative sizes to achieve a layout that matches itself to the viewer's hardware?

Unfortunately, practically every default blog template uses a fixed width column, including Automated Imagination's (Rounders 3, for now), which uses background images to make rounded corners in a way that's impossible to adapt to a resizable layout:

And yes, your blog uses a fixed-width column too. (No, not you Fraxas. No, not you Atlas.)


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