W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > site-comments@w3.org > April 2009

Re: new-site comments - left column space

From: Barclay, Daniel <daniel@fgm.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 2009 13:14:22 -0400
Message-ID: <49D3A0EE.60806@fgm.com>
To: "Ian Jacobs" <ij@w3.org>
Cc: <site-comments@w3.org>
Ian Jacobs wrote:
> On 31 Mar 2009, at 4:48 PM, Barclay, Daniel wrote:
>> Regarding the page http://beta.w3.org/, etc.
>> The left navigation column also takes up too much space at narrower
>> windows widths.
>> At least make the width proportional to the page or viewport width ...
> One concern about the proportional spacing was that the left navigation
> area itself would become unusable at narrow widths.

What was the particular concern?  (Since the column doesn't currently
resize, I can't see how the (current) implementation of the links would

On the home page (http://beta.w3.org/), which has icons next to the
left-column links, the link text "Browsers and Other Agents" wraps (at
my font size, etc.) and doesn't seem to be a problem.

> Note, by the way, that the mobile view may provide a slightly
> better experience for very narrow viewports.

Maybe we should review what is considered narrow vs. very narrow.

I use a 1280- or 1440-pixel-wide display and like to use windows that are
half my screen width (e.g., to use half my screen for whatever I'm working
on (e.g., editing something) and the other half for a browser window for
web pages I need to refer to).

Note that half of those screen widths comes out to 640 or 720 pixels,
respectively.  Even for a 1600-pixel-wide display, half-width is still only
800 pixels.

Those might sound like usually narrow browser window widths these days if
one considers only full-screen windows (because (presumably) not as many
people, especially not the more-advanced users using the W3C pages, still
have screens only 640 or 800 pixels wide).

However, when one keeps other use cases in mind (e.g., non-overlapping
half-screen windows as above, or windows somewhere between half- and full-
width), those widths shouldn't seem so usual

Hopefully those widths will just seem to be on the narrow end of the normal
(desktop-display) range, rather than very narrow, and "very narrow" would
suggest widths akin to that of my PDA (a Palm TX), whose display is 320
pixels wide (or 480 if rotated).

>> Also, notice how, once the user scrolls down below the extent of the 
>> left-
>> column content (e.g., to read the main-column content), the columns' 
>> horizontal
>> space is entirely wasted, for the entire height of the browser pane.
> Yes. One goal in the redesign has been to keep redesigned pages short
> so that this is not too much of a problem. Also, there are suggestions
> that a narrower page width may make it easier to read content.

Yes, paragraphs with lines that are too long (have over around 60 to 80
characters) are hard to read.

However, line lengths should be limited directly (e.g., using something
like "max-width: 40em") rather than indirectly.

Consider what happens if, while checking the page layout in a wider browser
window, one widens another column to reduce the width of a text column to
limit the line lengths:

When the page is displayed in a narrow browser window, the text column is
narrower than it needs to be, space that could have been used to display
more text (still readably) is wasted, and the user has to scroll more.

(Were those suggestions referring to line length or something else?)

(Plain text sometimes corrupted to HTML "courtesy" of Microsoft Exchange.) [F]
Received on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 17:15:06 UTC

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