A year or so ago, anyone writing guidelines for designing websites would tell you that it was just not right to have a horizontal scroll bar on your page which your readers have to use to move from left to right on your page, and vice versa. Today however, horizontal web design is the new rage in the design business, but that’s not to say that the whole Internet is ready for this eccentric way of displaying your web site.
We’re used to vertical websites which have fixed width and vary in their length. Horizontal websites on the other hand, have a fixed (or variable) length and vary in their width – they must be moved from left to right and vice versa. It may be a new way to design web pages, but there are only a few kinds of sites that look good and which are convenient to use when designed horizontally.
If your site is mostly covered in text and is document-oriented, then it’s not wise to go in for a horizontal design. On the other hand, if your pages are covered in photographs and other forms of graphics, perhaps a horizontal design would make a bold statement and convince people that you’re trying to do something that’s positively different.
Not many people get horizontal websites, so you need to keep your audience in mind before you change your design and revamp it. If they’re young and trendy and ready to accept innovation in any form, then you’ve probably got a winner. But if they’re set in their ways and don’t find any kind of chance acceptable, you’re better off not experimenting with horizontal web design.
Another aspect that hinders the acceptance and viability of horizontal design is that computers come hardwired to scroll up and down, and when it comes to scrolling sideways, you have to rely on explicit commands or the use of the left/right keys.
But usability aspects aside, horizontal websites do make an impact – whether positive or negative, they ensure that a visitor takes notice of your website instead of treating it like one of the millions that reside online.