RT Cunningham


Desktop Layouts vs. Mobile Phone and Tablet Layouts

desktop layout The desktop layout refers to tower and laptop computers. Mobile phones and tablets are laid out narrower in most cases. One layout doesn’t work everywhere, unless you’re using responsive web design.

When I wrote about web page width, I was using a single source for my information. I now have another source, which focuses more on readability than anything else.

Desktop Layouts and Readability

One of the reasons I started working on a custom CMS is because of WordPress theme limitations. Over the last several years, I’ve literally tested thousands of WordPress themes. Theme authors want me to buy the “pro” versions to get the full functionality. If I did that, even a few times, I’d be broke all the time.

While I was working on that CMS, I read an article about “Initializr” (based on the HTML5 boilerplate). Near the end, I paid particular attention to the section about readability. The concepts are sound, but they only work for desktop layouts.

With narrower layouts, the size recommendations don’t make sense. When viewed on a mobile phone, five-line desktop paragraphs are considerably longer. Putting filler images between paragraphs will slow things down, making page loads unnecessarily slow.

Two or three line paragraphs are enough to translate well to mobile phones. Tablets are on their own. The statistics I’ve read say they’re way out in third place when it comes to viewing web pages. Perhaps this is the reason some publishers write multiple versions of each article, for the best views on the most popular devices.

My Desktop Layout

While using the same WordPress theme, I’ve changed my desktop layout multiple times. I settled on a full-width layout to make things simple. I doubt I’ll change it again.

I try to focus on readability without sacrificing content. I use one image at the beginning introduction section. If you ignore the ads (and most people do), there isn’t anything added between paragraphs.

I would like to have everything look great on all devices, but I don’t want to spend hours doing that every time I write an article. I make it look great on desktops and hope it looks great on various mobile devices.

The desktop computer isn’t going anywhere. More people are using mobile devices but some of them would never have owned a desktop computer anyway.

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By RT Cunningham
July 4, 2017
Web Development