Ultimate multi-column liquid layouts (em and pixel widths)

Ultimate multi-column liquid layouts

My Perfect multi-column liquid layouts that use percentage widths have been very popular and many people have emailed me asking for versions using pixel and em widths, well they are finally finished. I have also included an additional 'blog style' design.

This series of layouts use pixel and em widths and relative positioning, and they work with all the common web browsers including Safari on the iPhone and iPod touch.

They're also 'stackable' so you can use multiple column types on the one page. This makes the number of possible layouts endless!

Follow the links below for the demos and more detailed info:

The main features

Demo time

3 Column (Holy Grail) Liquid Layout: Pixels | Ems

The Holy Grail 3 Column Liquid Layout

The most common website layout is the three column design. It is also the most difficult one to get right. The main page is in the center with a narrow column on either side.

3 Column (Blog Style) Liquid Layout: Pixels | Ems

The 3 Column Blog Style Liquid Layout

This layout is quite popular with bloggers. The main page comes first and then two columns are placed on the right of the page.

2 Column (Left Menu) Liquid Layout: Pixels | Ems

The 3 Column Left Menu Liquid Layout

The two column layout is a simple clean design with a narrow left hand column that can be filled with a side menu and the main content page on the right.

2 Column (Right Menu) Liquid Layout: Pixels | Ems

The 3 Column Liquid Right Menu Layout

This layout is exactly the same as the one above except with the side column on the right.

1 Column (Full Page) Liquid Layout: Pixels | Ems

The 1 Column Full Page Liquid Layout

Sometimes you may need to display some wide content like a large image, this layout has been designed specifically for this purpose.

Multi-Column Stacked Liquid Layout: Pixels | Ems

The Multi-Column Stacked Liquid Layout

The power and flexibility of the above layouts is extended by stacking any number of them together in any order to create an unlimited number of designs.

Overcoming cross-browser CSS issues

CSS can be tricky business particularly when you are trying to create complex liquid layouts for your websites (the hardest of all). To make matters worse, your design must work properly in a large number of browsers and operating systems. This can be a real headache because the numbers multiply out into dozens of combinations that need checking.

CSS hacks are bad

Because every browser has its own quirks, many people use hacks to overcome the little problems that arise. This has worked well 'til now but the number of browsers is growing and so too are the unexpected side effects of these hacks. In many instances, a hack fixes a problem in one browser but creates a new bug in another. Also when a new version of a browser comes out, any bugs that are now fixed will still cause problems because the old hacks are trying to fix a problem that's not there anymore.

Only use cross-browser CSS

The solution is to keep things simple and only use CSS that works in all browsers. One of the main things to avoid is horizontal margins, padding and borders on elements with a specified width. This causes big problems for Internet Explorer because of it's broken box model. Unfortunately, we can't simply ignore IE because it's the most widely used browser on the internet. If only everyone used Firefox!

If you like these layouts you may also be interested in my Floating boxes CSS layout.

Updated: 20 Jan 2008

First published: 20 Jan 2008