User-centered design is a design philosophy and a process rather than traditional design methods which is designer-centered. The ideas surround making the experience of the user more organic and blended within the website’s environment. User-centered design requires more thought to each stage of the design process to discover ways to increase the user’s ability to seamlessly browse the website without encountering technical or visual issues that could discourage a user from completing a transaction or worse, returning.
User-centered design often involves crowd-sourcing ideas from users themselves, through on-site forums and surveys. These sources help create a more personal experience for the user and may create emotional investment in the site. Competition for user’s time is paramount for many websites, so quality user experience within the website is important.
The difference between the fixed layout and the fluid layout is the way a page will restructure itself according to the user’s screen resolution. The fixed layout is a holdover from the design layouts of print media. Newspapers and magazines had a limit size based on advertising space that would be sold to businesses. The actual size of newsprint is 12 inches by 23 inches. As more users
gained access to the Internet, layout reconfigued to screen resolution of desktop monitors which averages 1280 x 1024. But technology changes over times and mobile phones and tablets reconfigured the need for re-sizing layouts.
The need to quickly resize a screen creates a need for the design to be able to readjust itself and still convey primary information to the user. As of 2014, Tech Crunch noted that Facebook had approximately 1 billion users accessing the site from a mobile phone. The Economist noted in their 2012 article “Making It Click”, the Gilt Group, a luxury item seller, received 25% of its business from mobile phone users. Users want the ability to purchase their goods and services quickly.
This means that in 2015, layout of information and goods needs to be fluid in order to reach users. If a screen resolution exceeds the mobile screen size of 320 X 480, the landing page will spill off the screen. This spillage would require the user to manipulate the screen in order to access the data, activating scrolling bars. Using scroll bars take up precious visual “real estate” in the mobile environment, diminishing the user’s experience. Diminished experience is not acceptable to design clients. So the layout of a webpage must include decisions in regards to resizing the data for the user without reducing the user’s experience of the website.
Fixed Website example-Macy’s
Fluid or Liquid Website example-Overstock.com
Making It Click. (2012, February 25). The Economist.