Elastic Layouts Dead?
I have had to question my view on laying out design’s with elastic layouts using the measurement Em’s, Elastic websites that zoom in or out with the text size have always been somewhat of the Holy Grail for me as far as layouts are concerned, and I think a lot of web designers agree with me. But is the extra torment and toil to make your design’s elastic worth the hassle if web browsers including Internet Explorer are supporting the new zoom feature?
IE’s Zoom Feature
With the launch of IE7 finally we have a version of IE that mostly behaves itself, I find I hardly need to change any CSS to make a template display properly and the guys at Microsoft have truly done a great job in comparison to IE6. It also looks sleeker and has built in RSS. The feature that scares the pants of me and threatens our very Holy Grail of layouts is their new Zoom feature. The feature can be activated much like standards based web browsers by hitting CTRL and the plus (+) button to increase zoom, and CTRL (-) to decrease the zoom, It appears to adjust the zoom in intervals of 10% and you can also manually pick a zoom percentage from the menu.
Whys that Scary?
The percentage of users who will be using IE7 is about to dramatically increase further due to the launch of Vista. This means that IE7 will be the dominant browser if it isn’t already and that average Joe now has built in Zoom features. Let me point one thing out at this point all measurement types including pixels and em’s work with IE’s Zoom feature, So from now on to the majority of users out there it doesn’t make a difference whether we use pixels, percentages or em’s to layout.
Web developer pride
It just doesn’t seem to matter aside from bragging rights to other web developers whether we produce elastic layouts anymore, and we also all know that its a lot easier to layout in a absolute measurement type such as pixels rather than a relative such as em’s. So should we bother with elastic anymore? I am starting to think its now not worth it and from a usability perspective I always think the more power the browser has the better.
Keep it in the browser
Taking that point a little further I believe we have a taste of what the future brings from the software giant, giving the browser more power has finally cracked that annoying problem some web designers have of “textus littiless”. I have perfect vision and yet a lot of websites I visit I have to bump up the text size just to aid my reading, one website that I frequent and probably most designers do also is the mighty A list Apart, which has ridiculously small text size, which I am sure does print out fine, but on my 2 PC screens is near unreadable and this is the website with probably the best content from the most well established names in our domain.
I do think the more power the browser has the better, I actually think search and contact details should be presented through the browser and I think this has already started to happen with future versions of IE promising a in built-in site search function, I think this is fab as every user will know exactly how to search every website. I know this is the thinking behind Micro-formats such as the H-Card, a way of having contact details for each website you visit in one place, well I could go on about this, but I’ll save this discussion for another article.
So Elastic is dead?
This truly is a question I want to ask you?, I have tried to explore where I stand on this matter and whether or not to just start laying out my templates in pixels because its just so much easier and it does seem that elastic layouts may have just died or they have at least suffered a broken neck as the ROI now seems not worth the extra workload.