[IAEP] [Systems] wiki design

Eben Eliason eben.eliason at gmail.com
Sat Apr 3 11:44:35 EDT 2010

On Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 10:40 PM, Josh Williams <josh at tucson-labs.com> wrote:
> On 3/13/10 1:56 PM, Sascha Silbe wrote:
> On Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 01:36:44PM -0700, Josh Williams wrote:
> I'm in the camp that it's better to set a maximum width because I think it's
> harder to read long strings of text.
> If you really want to do this (I still wouldn't like it), please at least
> base it on font size (em). Using pixel sizes will cause breakage for users
> of high resolution (DPI) screens and visually impaired users who have
> significantly increased the font size.
> If we do limit the width, I'll definitely use ems.
> Anyway, I'm not opposed to having it set at 100% width if you think most of
> the wiki users would prefer that.
> The question is not just what the majority prefers, but also what the
> drawbacks are for the minority.
> That's true, but I think the drawbacks are small for either case. Here are
> our two options, the problems I see, and typical responses to those
> problems.
> 1. Restrict the width to 62.5 em (roughly 1000px for people viewing at
> normal font size 16px)
> Argument: this will restrict people with large displays from using all of
> their window to fill the text.
> Response: Most contemporary sites are fixed width and set around 1000px, so
> those users are used to interacting with similar websites.
> 2. Don't restrict the width.
> Argument: Causes hard to read text when the browser is in full screen mode
> or when taking up a large portion of the screen.
> Response: Make the browser window smaller or zoom the page.
> Are there any other drawbacks that I'm missing? I don't really think this is
> just a decision I should make arbitrarily, so any thoughts on this would be
> appreciated.

I agree that sites which don't restrict the body column width are
generally more difficult to read, and it can be frustrating to users
who have a number of tabs open in a single window to continually
resize that window to make those sites readable. I'd put in a vote for
setting a max-width (instead of a fixed width), specified in ems, so
that the line length is comfortable for readability regardless of the
font size, and the layout can still scale down gracefully for narrower
viewports, such as on mobile devices.

I'd recommend something around 80–100 characters per line for best
readability. (It looks like about 100 now, so no change needed there.)
I'm happy to see you've already set the line-height to something
reasonable, too. Anyway, I love the redesign. I think it's looking
great! nice work.

One other note I had was that I'd like to see hover effects on links
in the main articles, just like those in the menu to the left.


> That being said, thanks for working on a new style! I too would love a wiki
> that looks "sweeter" (i.e. more like the Sugar UI).
> CU Sascha
> No problem! Thanks for the feedback!
> Josh
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