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Recently, I was using Facebook and I resized it to 50% of my screen to look at something else.

What I saw was that most of the page was cut off.

What are some reasons for Facebook or any other major online company NOT to have fluid layouts for the site, as it would increase readability etc?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Although fluid and responsive layouts are trendy now because of the big amount of different screen resolutions, fixed layouts still have pros:

  • Fixed-width layouts are much easier to use and easier to customize in terms of design.
  • Widths are the same for every browser, so there is less hassle with images, forms, video and other content that are fixed-width.
  • There is no need for min-width or max-width, which isn’t supported by every browser anyway.
  • Even if a website is designed to be compatible with the smallest screen resolution, 800×600, the content will still be wide enough at a larger resolution to be easily legible.

You can see the whole article comparing fixed vs fluid vs elastic layouts.

Facebook is the second most viewed site in the world, and it serves a hugely variable audiance, many of them on underdeveloped countries, so it needs to have a site that fits all kind of screens and, specially, browsers (Facebook stopped IE6 support in Aug. 2010). Most importantly, the Facebook experience must be the same for everybody, it is their trademark that differentiates them from other social networks. If you also take into account that they already target handhelds with OS-specific apps or a mobile web version —which, by the way, is fluid—, that leaves making desktop version's layout fixed the smartest option.

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Facebook doesnt have a fluid layout because they target the devices. Their approach is different from being fluid.

They identify the device like mobile or tablet or pc and apply the style accordingly. For example when you open facebook via mobile browser you will see totally different layout. But when you shrink the laptop browser to mobile browsers size you wont see that changes. Its because they dont target the browsers width and height .

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Precisely the fact the layout doesn't change on resizing means they don't use media queries. – Naoise Golden Jan 16 '12 at 10:51

Fluid design comes from times when all websites were approached by desktop browsers. Nowadays, websites are being consumed on literally hundreds various devices, not only in terms of screen estate, but also different OS, hardware specs, interface etc. It will be even more difficult in future with so-called Internet of things.

The solution is not one size fits all website, but adaptive/responsive approach respecting the device and its characteristics.

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