While i was going trough CSS galleries i ran into couple of interesting web sites with horizontal based layout and asked my self is this going to be next trend in web site development and what are the good and bad sides of this kind of web sites and where we can use this? So I've interview two developers and asked them these questions.
What inspired you to go with this kind of layout?
Luke Larsen: I choose to go with a horizontal layout because I wanted to do something different from all of the other websites that I create everyday. I had this idea back in college and was going to use Flash technology for it but when I started this time I wanted to stay away from Flash so I could help the site be more searchable.
Dean Oakley: I just wanted something different I guess. Always wanted to try a horizontal layout and I haven't seen many around the CSS galleries.
We don't see horizontal layouts so much today, by your opinion why is that?
Luke Larsen: I think horizontal layouts are sparse on the internet because they break the norm. I have done quite a few usability tests and found that when we break the norm for website layouts people tend to get lost or frustrated because the website can't be used in the way the user expects it to. It's like reading a book. If you were given a book that was written from right to left instead of left to right it would discourage you from reading it. You might be thinking then why did I use it. If the design of the website and the layout makes sense for it users will catch on and not have a problem using it. The problem arises when the horizontal scroll happens by accident. It then just becomes annoying to the user.
Dean Oakley: Well it's consistent in all browsers and gives you a lot of room for innovation. One of my Favorites would have to be blog.urbanoutfitters.com Also because monitors are generally wider than higher so it makes sense.
While you are using it can you tell us the good and bad sides of it?
Luke Larsen: The pro to using a horizontal layout is that if it is well planned out it is very unique. If well implemented the user doesn't have a hard time using it and actually enjoys a site that is different and yet still easy to use.
The cons is that if the site isn't well crafted the user has a hard time using the site and gets annoyed while trying to use it and then tends to leave and not come back. Like I mentioned before this layout breaks the norm and when that happens there is a small adjustment the user has to make. How well the design enables the user to make that adjustment will make or break a horizontal layout website.
Dean Oakley: Initially my idea was to have a repeating background with a footer positioned at the bottom but this proved impossible because of the horizontal scroll bar. So this limits the design in this respect and is what made me think of the floating ground design.
It's a good idea to give the user multiple options for navigation. The script I used for the navigation can be found here This gives you not only a smooth scroll effect but the use of the mouse wheel in IE and Firefox
What people usually say about it? Is it confusing sometimes?
Luke Larsen: I have only had people say positive things about the the lukelarsen.com website. I did do a horizontal website in college and the only reason I did a horizontal layout was because I felt like it. People did say it was confusing and that they would have preferred a vertical site. I think the difference in the two sites is that the lukelarsen.com site holds the concept of the fish tank. Fish tanks are normally wide therefore it makes sense in the users mind that the website should be wide.
Dean Oakley: I was surprised to get a few negative comments like "horizontal scrolling sites are ugly and annoying" or "horizontal scroll is bad" but why is this? What's the reason? I don't know.
But generally the feedback has been good. For this kind of site it works well. If you had a lot more information I think it might get confusing.
I don't know why horizontal layouts are sometimes deemed bad or uncool. The code is still valid and works flawlessly in all browsers, for the right kind of site it makes sense!
Do you think this could be one of the next popular things on the web?
Luke Larsen: I think as the internet gets older and older and people get more creative we will see other well crafted websites that are user friendly and are horizontal based. I don't think that horizontal website will ever be more popular than vertical sites. It's just the nature of the web. Just like books will always be left right, websites will always be mostly top to bottom. Regardless of that I think we will see more horizontal websites cropping up, just not ever taking over.
Dean Oakley: Well maybe. I would like to see it used more. I think there a lot of unexplored design ideas available with the horizontal scroll layout.