There are limits to this sort of design that you really ought to be
aware of and deal with proactively.
Beyond a certain number of characters/words in a line of text, it
becomes increasingly unlikely that people will be able to read the
text you present without having serious difficulty finding their place
after the end of each line. This leads to a slowdown in reading speed
and a loss of confidence and comfort while reading, which can lead
people to leave your site.
So while you may want to have your background appear to fill the
browser window, I would posit that you would want to set a definite
limit to the overall width of the page. Your only other option if you
intend to present reading material to your visitors is to use a
dynamically scaled page, where the width of the window sets everything
– the font size, leading, inter-paragraph spacing, etc. to a factor
of the page width, so that line lengths as measured in average number
of words remain a fixed constant. This can lead to some serious “Fun
with Dick and Jane”-scale type on larger displays, though.
Another approach is to have the page background scale to fit the
window, but the text contents only grow in width until they reach a
stopping point (again, limited by the upper bounds of a readable line)
after which all the growth happens in non-text elements.
The FreewayTalk site is one example of this theory in practice. The
site is centered in the browser, and has a single fixed width, aimed
at presenting 12 - 20 words per line at average browser defaults.
There is a preference to make the page wider if you like, but the
defaults are designed to enhance readability. The background images
are set to tile, so the layout looks designed no matter what width
window it appears in.
Another approach to the visible edge is to layer background images,
and make the edges blend into each other. The header of the
FreewayTalk site shows this in practice as well. There is a fairly
narrow image that tiles horizontally to create the blue band at the
top of the page. But the same background texture is used within the
logo at the top of the page. Drag that image in Safari to see a
thumbnail of it and see how the puzzle pieces fit together. One image
overlaps the other, and the edges match up really well. A little
random noise “texture” in the images makes it all but impossible to
see the seam.
On Jun 21, 2010, at 9:52 PM, Patricia Wisner wrote:
Basically, sometimes when I’ve created a page with a background
graphic which is placed in Freeway, the pixel dimensions
have been fixed and are not flexible. Sometimes the background does
not fill the space in the browser window leaving
visible margins outside the background image which look really bad.
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