We are developing some e-learning materials and I am having discussions regarding a fixed height "wrapper". I strongly disagree with the idea of fixed height, it goes against so many UX principles. I have raised the usual points but am always countered with the argument that "it only applies to web sites". Does anyone have any links to articles relating to this topic? I am looking for specific e-learning information or guidelines, but generic web guidelines would also help.

I am happy to be proved wrong if evidence points towards fixed layout been of benefit in the context of e-learning.

  • Is it a website, mobile application, desktop full-screen etc? – giraff Aug 26 '11 at 11:49
  • It is a web site. – Sheff Aug 29 '11 at 11:08

I think that there are good arguments both ways. On the one hand, if you are developing a site then the fact it is e-learning is irrelevant - it is still a web site, and the web site rules apply. On the other hand, e-learning is a very constrained type of site - in essence, you are siaplying a set of images or videos to a user, which they can do some interaction with. Ensuring that the page is a fixed height means that the provider can be sure that the images or videos are displayed as expected.

My experiene of the field is that fixed height is the way most of it is currently done. That does not mean it is right, but it does mean you need to justify going against the normal approach, if you insist on doing that. Can I turn the question around - other than because is it a proper way of doing things normally on a site, what benefits are you expecting from not having a fixed layout that will benefit the learning user?

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  • When the height is fixed we are restricted to the amount of content that can be displayed. – Sheff Aug 26 '11 at 15:25
  • sorry timed out while I was typing: – Sheff Aug 26 '11 at 15:31
  • When the height is fixed we are restricted to the amount of content that can be displayed. Interactions need to be squeezed into a set space even though this may make them less useful/consistent/readable etc Feedback is hidden until required then displayed - The position where it appears can become inconsistent when people are trying to fit with a fixed height. With todays proliferation of devices/display resolutions etc, there is no longer a fixed one size fits all solution. By allowing scrolling we make the content key, so it does not have to be as constrained. runningoutofchars! – Sheff Aug 26 '11 at 15:31
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    OK, point made, and I think you have a very good point in this. However, the other side is that if the interactions cannot be squeezed into the space you have, might they not be too complex? But I think you have a very valid point here, and one that you may need to make more loudly - and make sure people know that you have understood my point about ensuring that the content is presented as the provider expects. – Schroedingers Cat Aug 26 '11 at 20:01

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