[DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

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xolotl xolotl
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[DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

Sorry for the naive, tardy question, but may I ask why the default UX
for OAE has been developed as fixed-width?

For a platform that expects to incorporate everything from remote
content to embedded external tools, it seems like a liquid-width
experience would be a better choice.

--
Nate Angell
Sakai Product Manager
rSmart
http://www.rsmart.com
http://twitter.com/xolotl
http://xolotl.org
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Bruce D'Arcus-3 Bruce D'Arcus-3
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

On Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 12:06 AM, Nate Angell <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Sorry for the naive, tardy question, but may I ask why the default UX
> for OAE has been developed as fixed-width?

I'm curious as well. I've noticed some layout issues (like too-wide
dialogs) with the current UI even on my 12" laptop screen, and I'm
noticing more of my students using 10" netbooks these days.

Bruce

> For a platform that expects to incorporate everything from remote
> content to embedded external tools, it seems like a liquid-width
> experience would be a better choice.
>
> --
> Nate Angell
> Sakai Product Manager
> rSmart
> http://www.rsmart.com
> http://twitter.com/xolotl
> http://xolotl.org
> _______________________________________________
> sakai-ux mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://collab.sakaiproject.org/mailman/listinfo/sakai-ux
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> TO UNSUBSCRIBE: send email to [hidden email] with a subject of "unsubscribe"
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Bruce D'Arcus-3 Bruce D'Arcus-3
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

On Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM, Lucile G Appert <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Apparently the fixed width is easier for developers to work with ...

This is what I'd assume, but I guess the question is whether this
"easier ... to work with" quality is a consequence of trying to work
around old (in particular IE) browser limitations/bugs.

E.g. if there's a trade-off between robust liquid layout (and
therefore support for a wider array of screen sizes) and wider browser
support, I'd opt for the former.

I should also add that I don't think the current UI does a very good
job exploiting large screen sizes either.

Bruce
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xolotl xolotl
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

In reply to this post by xolotl
I want to be clear I think the current OAE UX/design is beautiful and
I greatly appreciate and value all the hard work that went into
it...great going!

I'm just curious if there are profound technical or UX reasons for the
fixed width experience and if so, what they are. Sorry if I missed
earlier discussion around this topic.

- Nate

On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 9:06 PM, Nate Angell <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Sorry for the naive, tardy question, but may I ask why the default UX
> for OAE has been developed as fixed-width?
>
> For a platform that expects to incorporate everything from remote
> content to embedded external tools, it seems like a liquid-width
> experience would be a better choice.
>
> --
> Nate Angell
> Sakai Product Manager
> rSmart
> http://www.rsmart.com
> http://twitter.com/xolotl
> http://xolotl.org
>
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Eli Cochran-2 Eli Cochran-2
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

I won't speak for the OAE design team since I'm not a part of it. (I too am a fan of the current design!)

As a sometimes-designer, my experience is that fixed-width layouts are just easier to design for, especially for sites which are more about content. Creating a consistent and esthetically pleasing user experience in a fluid environment is very challenging and introduces many variables. Line lengths, relative sizes of text blocks and graphics, relationships between interface elements, and many other design issues become much more complex.

Transactional sites and web apps lend themselves a bit more to fluid layout, although many of the challenges continue.

And there are many exceptions. Fluid can be done very well as can fixed.

We are entering an era where screen-size is increasingly diverse. Fluid-layouts may not be the answer but designing one web experience that will run on multiple devices is critical.

- Eli



On Aug 27, 2011, at 10:12 AM, Nate Angell wrote:

> I want to be clear I think the current OAE UX/design is beautiful and
> I greatly appreciate and value all the hard work that went into
> it...great going!
>
> I'm just curious if there are profound technical or UX reasons for the
> fixed width experience and if so, what they are. Sorry if I missed
> earlier discussion around this topic.
>
> - Nate
>
> On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 9:06 PM, Nate Angell <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Sorry for the naive, tardy question, but may I ask why the default UX
>> for OAE has been developed as fixed-width?
>>
>> For a platform that expects to incorporate everything from remote
>> content to embedded external tools, it seems like a liquid-width
>> experience would be a better choice.
>>
>> --
>> Nate Angell
>> Sakai Product Manager
>> rSmart
>> http://www.rsmart.com
>> http://twitter.com/xolotl
>> http://xolotl.org
>>
> _______________________________________________
> sakai-ux mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://collab.sakaiproject.org/mailman/listinfo/sakai-ux
>
> TO UNSUBSCRIBE: send email to [hidden email] with a subject of "unsubscribe"

. . . . . . . . . . .  .  .   .    .      .         .              .                     .

Eli Cochran
project manager, CalCentral project
Educational Technology Services, U.C. Berkeley

"Software is hard" - Donald Knuth

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Keli Sato Amann Keli Sato Amann
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

Hi, I'm also not a part of the OAE design team, but I will speak from my own observations. Bcc'ing Nico as I'm not sure if he follows this list.

The CLE has always bugged me because all the form fields are in their own row--I've been told that is because of liquid layout. For someone who has a large monitor, this seems like a waste; in a tool with a lot of settings, I would prefer to see the horizontal space used so I don't have to scroll forever to click save. Large monitor are supposed to make me more efficient and I'd like to take advantage of that extra space.

Liquid layout is a good idea, but there's a lower limit beyond which you'd need an interface that is specific to the device. The mobile phone (aka pda) view of the CLE has been cited as a case where the early liquid layout decision paid off, which is sort of true, but really, mobile devices deserves a specific design for their form factor (small vertical screen)--one that might require more screens and clicks instead of scrolling. If we were to build an app, it would be focused on viewing, and perhaps some light entry. We would assume the major text entry would be done on a laptop.

So if phones are not the lower limit, what is? Just eyeballing it, the OAE appears to be designed to for a ~12" laptop but no smaller. Bruce brings up netbooks, but my initial instinct is that these computers are primarily used for consumption rather than creation, and at most to answer email or to take notes. They make a good secondary computer for students who just need a light computer to take to class, but not as a sole computer option. As such, those who own them are prepared for some tradeoffs. Even if it was their primary computer, I imagine they would get a large monitor to offset it.

That being said, certain sections of the OAE screens could be made liquid such that the optimum viewing would be 12" or larger but it wouldn't require horizontal scrolling if you shrunk it down to 10". This not only helps netbook users but users with bad vision. Amazon.com does a pretty good job--the main featured area and left nav never shrinks, you just don't see the ads on the far right. But the # of recommended products goes from 5 to 4, and the top nav wraps. In a similar way, the top nav of the OAE could wrap, as could the document menus and the TinyMCE editor; the add content lightbox probably just isn't sized correctly. I have a feeling that the fact that this wasn't done is more of an oversight than a choice, but I could be wrong.

Keli Amann
User Experience Specialist
Academic Computing Services, Stanford University

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eli Cochran" <[hidden email]>
To: "Nate Angell" <[hidden email]>
Cc: "sakai-ux UX" <[hidden email]>
Sent: Saturday, August 27, 2011 11:19:43 AM
Subject: Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

I won't speak for the OAE design team since I'm not a part of it. (I too am a fan of the current design!)

As a sometimes-designer, my experience is that fixed-width layouts are just easier to design for, especially for sites which are more about content. Creating a consistent and esthetically pleasing user experience in a fluid environment is very challenging and introduces many variables. Line lengths, relative sizes of text blocks and graphics, relationships between interface elements, and many other design issues become much more complex.

Transactional sites and web apps lend themselves a bit more to fluid layout, although many of the challenges continue.

And there are many exceptions. Fluid can be done very well as can fixed.

We are entering an era where screen-size is increasingly diverse. Fluid-layouts may not be the answer but designing one web experience that will run on multiple devices is critical.

- Eli



On Aug 27, 2011, at 10:12 AM, Nate Angell wrote:

> I want to be clear I think the current OAE UX/design is beautiful and
> I greatly appreciate and value all the hard work that went into
> it...great going!
>
> I'm just curious if there are profound technical or UX reasons for the
> fixed width experience and if so, what they are. Sorry if I missed
> earlier discussion around this topic.
>
> - Nate
>
> On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 9:06 PM, Nate Angell <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Sorry for the naive, tardy question, but may I ask why the default UX
>> for OAE has been developed as fixed-width?
>>
>> For a platform that expects to incorporate everything from remote
>> content to embedded external tools, it seems like a liquid-width
>> experience would be a better choice.
>>
>> --
>> Nate Angell
>> Sakai Product Manager
>> rSmart
>> http://www.rsmart.com
>> http://twitter.com/xolotl
>> http://xolotl.org
>>
> _______________________________________________
> sakai-ux mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://collab.sakaiproject.org/mailman/listinfo/sakai-ux
>
> TO UNSUBSCRIBE: send email to [hidden email] with a subject of "unsubscribe"

. . . . . . . . . . .  .  .   .    .      .         .              .                     .

Eli Cochran
project manager, CalCentral project
Educational Technology Services, U.C. Berkeley

"Software is hard" - Donald Knuth

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Nicolaas Matthijs Nicolaas Matthijs
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

In reply to this post by Eli Cochran-2
Thanks for this feedback. The only other thing that I'd like to add
to what's already been said is that the main reason why we haven't
gone with a Fluid layout yet is that a significant part of what
people will do inside of OAE is creating pages and content, which
can have images and widgets embedded inside of them. This potentially
introduces issues around people having certain expectations on
how their content will be presented to others and could cause
display issues.

Having said that, making better use of larger screen sizes is
something that has come up several times before. Doing this is
important and doing this well can be done if we're able to dedicate
some time to it, although it is debatably lower priority than
some of the other features and issues we're currently working
through. Because of that, I hope we can come back to this at
some point to utilize these larger (but also smaller) screens
more effectively.

Hope that helps,
Nicolaas

> I won't speak for the OAE design team since I'm not a
> part of it. (I too am a fan of the current design!)
>
> As a sometimes-designer, my experience is that fixed-width
> layouts are just easier to design for, especially for sites
> which are more about content. Creating a consistent and
> esthetically pleasing user experience in a fluid environment
> is very challenging and introduces many variables. Line lengths,
> relative sizes of text blocks and graphics, relationships between
> interface elements, and many other design issues become much more
> complex.
>
> Transactional sites and web apps lend themselves a bit more
> to fluid layout, although many of the challenges continue.
>
> And there are many exceptions. Fluid can be done very well
> as can fixed.
>
> We are entering an era where screen-size is increasingly diverse.
> Fluid-layouts may not be the answer but designing one web
> experience that will run on multiple devices is critical.
>
> - Eli

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Charles Hedrick Charles Hedrick
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Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width

In reply to this post by Keli Sato Amann
As someone with typography as a hobby, I agree that there are advantages to fix-width designs when it comes to getting a nice design.

But there's a fatal problem. Currently we have to deal with a variety of devices, and with people who have a variety of capabilities. My vision isn't what it used to be. I often prefer to use significantly larger fonts. I really don't want that to force horizontal scrolling. Many of the mobile sites that have put a lot of work into nice-looking mobile views are useless to me in an iPhone, because a lot of them are designed in such as way that you can't use the normal pinch gestures to expand the size. I actually prefer sites that don't have a mobile view, because those sites are are typically more flexible.

In short, I consider it unacceptable to force a particular width.


On Aug 29, 2011, at 7:37:37 PM, Keli Sato Amann wrote:

> Hi, I'm also not a part of the OAE design team, but I will speak from my own observations. Bcc'ing Nico as I'm not sure if he follows this list.
>
> The CLE has always bugged me because all the form fields are in their own row--I've been told that is because of liquid layout. For someone who has a large monitor, this seems like a waste; in a tool with a lot of settings, I would prefer to see the horizontal space used so I don't have to scroll forever to click save. Large monitor are supposed to make me more efficient and I'd like to take advantage of that extra space.
>
> Liquid layout is a good idea, but there's a lower limit beyond which you'd need an interface that is specific to the device. The mobile phone (aka pda) view of the CLE has been cited as a case where the early liquid layout decision paid off, which is sort of true, but really, mobile devices deserves a specific design for their form factor (small vertical screen)--one that might require more screens and clicks instead of scrolling. If we were to build an app, it would be focused on viewing, and perhaps some light entry. We would assume the major text entry would be done on a laptop.
>
> So if phones are not the lower limit, what is? Just eyeballing it, the OAE appears to be designed to for a ~12" laptop but no smaller. Bruce brings up netbooks, but my initial instinct is that these computers are primarily used for consumption rather than creation, and at most to answer email or to take notes. They make a good secondary computer for students who just need a light computer to take to class, but not as a sole computer option. As such, those who own them are prepared for some tradeoffs. Even if it was their primary computer, I imagine they would get a large monitor to offset it.
>
> That being said, certain sections of the OAE screens could be made liquid such that the optimum viewing would be 12" or larger but it wouldn't require horizontal scrolling if you shrunk it down to 10". This not only helps netbook users but users with bad vision. Amazon.com does a pretty good job--the main featured area and left nav never shrinks, you just don't see the ads on the far right. But the # of recommended products goes from 5 to 4, and the top nav wraps. In a similar way, the top nav of the OAE could wrap, as could the document menus and the TinyMCE editor; the add content lightbox probably just isn't sized correctly. I have a feeling that the fact that this wasn't done is more of an oversight than a choice, but I could be wrong.
>
> Keli Amann
> User Experience Specialist
> Academic Computing Services, Stanford University
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Eli Cochran" <[hidden email]>
> To: "Nate Angell" <[hidden email]>
> Cc: "sakai-ux UX" <[hidden email]>
> Sent: Saturday, August 27, 2011 11:19:43 AM
> Subject: Re: [DG: User Experience] Fixed vs Liquid Width
>
> I won't speak for the OAE design team since I'm not a part of it. (I too am a fan of the current design!)
>
> As a sometimes-designer, my experience is that fixed-width layouts are just easier to design for, especially for sites which are more about content. Creating a consistent and esthetically pleasing user experience in a fluid environment is very challenging and introduces many variables. Line lengths, relative sizes of text blocks and graphics, relationships between interface elements, and many other design issues become much more complex.
>
> Transactional sites and web apps lend themselves a bit more to fluid layout, although many of the challenges continue.
>
> And there are many exceptions. Fluid can be done very well as can fixed.
>
> We are entering an era where screen-size is increasingly diverse. Fluid-layouts may not be the answer but designing one web experience that will run on multiple devices is critical.
>
> - Eli
>
>
>
> On Aug 27, 2011, at 10:12 AM, Nate Angell wrote:
>
>> I want to be clear I think the current OAE UX/design is beautiful and
>> I greatly appreciate and value all the hard work that went into
>> it...great going!
>>
>> I'm just curious if there are profound technical or UX reasons for the
>> fixed width experience and if so, what they are. Sorry if I missed
>> earlier discussion around this topic.
>>
>> - Nate
>>
>> On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 9:06 PM, Nate Angell <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> Sorry for the naive, tardy question, but may I ask why the default UX
>>> for OAE has been developed as fixed-width?
>>>
>>> For a platform that expects to incorporate everything from remote
>>> content to embedded external tools, it seems like a liquid-width
>>> experience would be a better choice.
>>>
>>> --
>>> Nate Angell
>>> Sakai Product Manager
>>> rSmart
>>> http://www.rsmart.com
>>> http://twitter.com/xolotl
>>> http://xolotl.org
>>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> sakai-ux mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> http://collab.sakaiproject.org/mailman/listinfo/sakai-ux
>>
>> TO UNSUBSCRIBE: send email to [hidden email] with a subject of "unsubscribe"
>
> . . . . . . . . . . .  .  .   .    .      .         .              .                     .
>
> Eli Cochran
> project manager, CalCentral project
> Educational Technology Services, U.C. Berkeley
>
> "Software is hard" - Donald Knuth
>
> _______________________________________________
> sakai-ux mailing list
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> http://collab.sakaiproject.org/mailman/listinfo/sakai-ux
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