A List Apart is too wide

Published on 31 August 2005 in , ,

Great. A List Apart has relaunched.

And it’s gone worse. It’s gone wide. 960px wide to be precise.

It’s not the first site to – the (now) pretty awful upmystreet.com did it a few weeks, but that site’s gone so downhill recently that I’ve stopped caring. But A List Apart is a site I do read. And I don’t want it wide.


Because I don’t have my browser set to full screen. And I don’t want my browser to be set at full screen.

Yes my monitor may be set to 1024×768 (hey, it’s a five year old CRT), and yes, my browser can easily handle web pages at that size, but I don’t want to actually view them at that size. And that doesn’t give web designers the right to demand that I view them that way,

My screen is filled with all manner of windows – email clients, terminals, web browsers, editors, image programmes – whatever. And I want to make the most of that space. As such, I’ve found a width for my browser that I’m reasonably happy with – it’s around 800px wide, just big enough for the majority of websites to cope with.

I don’t want it any wider cos I want to be able to get to my other apps, scattered around my website. I don’t need it any wider because, to be quite frank, if you can’t get it in a 800px wide window, then you’re not designing things properly. Especially when 800px gives you plenty of room to give the user a block of body text and two columns, all in sensible, readable proportions.

This obsession some designers have with dominating our screens is quite frankly getting ridiculous. It’s about time that people started remembering that how people want view their sites, is not always going to be how people want to view them. Yes, most of the world has moved on from the 800×600 screen resolution, but that doesn’t mean users want to view every single bloomin’ application in a full screen mode.

There is a reason why every site I design uses a liquid layout – resize this window and the website will adapt and change appropriately. You want this site narrower? Sure. Wider? Go ahead. It’s up to you. Want to view it with your browser maximised with a screen res of 1600×1200? Well hey, if you’re that weird…

I do it that way because I like having control over websites I view, and because what I think is good isn’t necessarily what other people think is good. I don’t want people to dictate how I view websites, so I don’t dictate to others. True, I sometimes set sensible minimum widths to make it look pretty, but there’s still plenty of room to play around with.

But what really annoys me about this new A List Apart design… What really gets up my goat… A quarter of the screen width is wasted – completely wasted – in a branding column. A column that has nothing in it but the logo. A complete waste of space. And it’s the first column. So okay, yes all I need to do is scroll across. But then I end up with horizontal scrollbars… And if there’s something that I really hate on a website, it’s horizontal bloody scrollbars…