Deciding between a Fixed Width and Flexible Width Web Layout

When you are deciding on a web page layout, one important factor you need to think of is whether you are going to use a fixed width or a flexible width layout. Thinking about this ahead of time will help you come up with the appropriate web design.  In the past, when people were still using those CRT screens, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. But these days, with the varying widths of monitors, it has become harder than ever for web designers to decide on the best way to display websites. Which one is better, fixed or variable width? Each has its own pros and cons. By understanding them, you will also be able to make an informed decision.

Fixed Width


  • Whether the screen is large or small, the basic web layout for the webpage remains the same. This is preferred by those who want to provide a consistent image for their audience.
  • Fixed width web layouts have better control for line lengths. For larger monitors, tables can be used to prevent text to become too long.


  • Some parts of the page may not be viewed or may have horizontal scrolling. This happens when the browser is smaller than the page grid. Vertical scrolling is very common while many users find horizontal scrolling to be uncomfortable. That is why web designers want to avoid the need for horizontal scrolling as much as possible.
  • Fixed width web layouts may result to large empty spaces. Vertical scrolling may have to be done more than necessary.

Flexible Width


  • Remember that websites are displayed in varying monitor resolutions. In keeping the web layout flexible, it can be customized accordingly
  • The page will fill up the whole screen with no awkward empty spaces on either sides
  • You don’t have to choose a target monitor resolution when designing the layout
  • It is functional to a great number of users


  • On large screens or monitors, the text line length may look awkward as it fills the width of the browser. Text that is supposed to be in a form of a paragraph will become a long line of text, which can be very uncomfortable for readers.
  • While on large monitors, some elements may tend to float around, but on small monitors, elements may look cramped. Both scenarios make the layout less efficient and in a way, more difficult to navigate through.
  • Flexible web layouts allow the page to be customized for every display, but it also makes it unpredictable. Users may have varying experiences for the same webpage.

If you are a website owner, you may ask the help of a website designer to determine the best layout for your website. You should also take into consideration the devices used by your readers or visitors to access your website. If a lot of your readers are using their mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, to visit your website, it may be a good idea for you to use a flexible width layout.

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