[pmwiki-users] Proposition for a new PmWiki Skin

Petko Yotov 5ko at 5ko.fr
Wed Oct 12 04:47:49 CDT 2011

On Tuesday 11 October 2011 23:02:40, John Rankin wrote :
> Is there a reason *not* to follow generally-accepted practice of an
> average 12 words per line?

More than one. A narrow column width may be a generally-accepted practice in 
print, and may be better and easier for long texts like books of fiction. 

But people don't read on the web like they read books. On the web, people scan 
the pages for section titles, bold/highlighted keywords, links, bulletted 
lists... looking for some pieces of information they need. When they find that 
information, they read it and they go away, and their whole visit lasts on the 
average no more than 30-60 seconds.

A narrow text column compared to a wider one means that all the key 
information may not be visible in the first screen and people may leave, that 
there is less text to scan on each screen, that the page is taller and you 
need to scroll more times, which makes the web page harder to use the way 
people actually use it.

Also, there is more empty space on the sides of the screen: on my (tiny) 
laptop (1366x768) there is enough place for 2.4 such columns of 33em, and on 
my desktop (1920x1200) for almost 4.

I don't say that a text column should be 1920px large: initial key content 
visibility, scanability, readability and layout consistency/aesthetics are all 
important. The following report


recommends to optimize layouts for 1024x768 and it uses "max-width:50em" for 
the content column; for larger screens, this width is still very readable, for 
smaller screens the page will adapt itself and become narrower and taller.

We couldn't know what width would be best for the content of other pmwikis; 
even if the new layout of pmwiki.org is wider than 33em, it will be possible 
for an admin to make it narrower, for example by adding a line in local.css.


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