The Case for Relative Widths or Liquid / Elastic / Fluid Layouts

The arguments raised in favour of giving Website Designer layouts a relative width or liquid layout usually revolve around the fact that such layouts yield pages that work regardless of the visitor’s screen resolution.
For example, a width of “100%” will always span the entire width of the browser window whether the visitor has a 640x468 display or a 1024x768 display (etc). Your visitor never needs to scroll horizontally to read your page, something that is regarded by most people as being very annoying.
With relative widths, you need not worry whether to code for a restrictive 800x600 display, or for the more reasonable 1024x768 display.
At the time of this writing, the pages on were constructed with relative widths. They probably look fine if you were using a 800x600 or a 1024x768 display. If however, you have a wider display, try viewing it with your browser window expanded to its maximum width (ie, “maximize” it, in Windows lingo).
Did you notice that a number of the paragraphs that used to occupy a decent few lines are now displayed as single lines? The article now looks like an elementary school essay - with single lined paragraphs and lots of space in between. Each time you have to read a line, your eyes have to travel the long distance between both ends of your huge monitor.
Essentially, when you use a liquid layout, you have less control over the appearance of your page. It will appear as wide or as narrow as your visitor’s browser. As a result, when the browser window gets too wide, everything will appear stretched out. When the browser window gets too narrow, your text and graphics in the various columns will suddenly be misaligned.
If you were to create a fixed layout, the elements in the page will retain their proportion regardless of the visitor’s screen resolution. Of course if the resolution drops below the fixed width you assigned, the visitor would have to scroll horizontally. But at least your page still appears as you planned.