There are various ways to layout a site, but using the max space possible on each browser window simplifies a lot of things. That is NOT to say open your own window at 100% and bring that window to the front. Porn, warez and other scammy sites do this for some unknown reason to me. There’s nothing that will get me away from a site faster than to have a lot of unwanted activities taking place on my monitor.
Ways to do this include NO tables and just leave your content inside a <P> tag. If you need an object (image, table, etc.) in the area then use an ALIGN=RIGHT or something along those lines to get it where you want it.
The other way, which doesn’t quite meet specs, is by using the table layout like such:
<TD width=”150″>Thin column</TD>
<TD width=”*”>LOTS of content stretching the rest of the window</TD>
The use of the asterisk(*) is NOT part of any recent specifications, but it does work in most scenarios in which I have used it. The code will NOT pass HTML syntax checking though. It may be obsolete one day, but I’m seeing no signs of it disappearing at this point.
The other layout option is to stick with a size that is comfortable for most browsers. I use occasionally an 800 wide layout depending on what I’m creating that will NOT resize. At least my graphics stay where I want them. A user with a hi-res browser will then get stuck feasibly seeing the site with a lot of space around it, but it will look as it was intended. This method does not make max use of all available space and thus will waste a lot of usable space.
It is not impossible to get your graphics (in tables) to line up smoothly under browsers of differnt sizes and resizes, but depending on the site (and the money being paid) the hours that it may take to get it lined up right may not be justified. A judgement call is needed when it comes to items like this. Usually just shoot for best results in the most frequently used browser, IE usually, and then reasonable results in all the other browsers. This is usually referred to as “degrading gracefully.”