ice

Ice, jello, and liquid are related terms describing three approaches to controlling content placement on a Web page.

For ICE, see Information and Content Exchange.

Ice, jello, and liquid are related terms describing three approaches to controlling content placement on a Web page. Because the browser user can control and change both screen resolution and window size, the Web page designer is challenged to design a page that will achieve its intended effect in spite of user resizing.

An ice page is one in which the primary content has a fixed width in pixel and assumes a left margin alignment. Such a page is designed to display optimally on one particular display resolution setting and window size and either specifies or assumes that size. If the resolution is set to a different setting, the page may have unneeded space on the right size of the display window, but this is a risk that the designer chooses to take.

A jello page is one in which the primary content is centered on the page. It also has a fixed-width column, but it is always centered in any size window and at any display resolution. Its center alignment eliminates the excessive right margin seen in an "ice" page (when viewed on a large monitor). But it can have excessive margins on both sides of the centered content.

A liquid page, according to Glenn Davis of Project Cool, is (to paraphrase slightly):..."a Web page that will reflow to fit no matter what size window you pour it into." Unlike the ice and jello approaches, a liquid page or content area leaves no blank margin on the right or the left. However, unless special care is taken, elements in a liquid page can sometimes have too much or too little space between them.

More sophisticated designers sometimes use a combination of tables and tables-within-tables to define and control layout space and element placement in the various resolutions and windows sizes users may choose to use. To create liquid content spaces or pages, you may be able to determine the window size and dynamically adjust your content layout to meet each user's requirements.

This was first published in September 2005

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