Thought of the Day: Fixed position elements are the 2011 equivalent of 1990’s frames

More and more I’m seeing the use of fixed positioning in websites to the point of it becoming a distraction. Let me give you two examples. First, the New York Times. Unfortunately I can’t give you a link because this example involved an ad, and the ads on the Times’ pages are dynamic. But what I saw today involved a large ad in the right sidebar of an article that at first glance looked normal. Then I began reading the story and like a normal person I had to scroll down the page to continue. As I did, the ad scrolled up the page with the text until the top of the ad bumped up against the top of my browser’s viewport, at which point it stopped and decided to hang around. Wtf? I scrolled up and down to make sure something wasn’t wrong and low and behold, the positioning of the ad went from relative to fixed based on whether the ad was going to be scrolled above the viewport or not. It felt a bit like walking down the street, seeing a homeless guy, passing him only to have him get up and start walking next to you until you get to the end of the block. Walk backwards and he still follows.
My other two examples are pretty much the same annoying example of positioning, but here they act exactly like frames. Both the new Twitter layout and the God awful new Gawker network layout (gizmodo, lifehacker, etc.) use a fixed positioned element on the right side of the page. This fixed element is essentially the equivalent of the old frame layouts we saw back in the 1990’s. The content on the left will follow your scroll bar while the content on the right is stuck in place. What’s especially annoying in the Gawker network of sites is that this fixed sidebar takes up valuable screen real estate that would normally be available to content. Collapsing it would be great; unfortunately it’s not an option. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples of this but these were just a recent few that caught my eye. My question is why? Why are Designers doing this? Shitty ad placement aside, let me decide whether I want a fixed sidebar. For you ads I’ll just stick with AdBlock.

One thought on “Thought of the Day: Fixed position elements are the 2011 equivalent of 1990’s frames”

  1. There is only one reason for Gwaker to implement this and that belongs to the ad block in the sidebar. Keeping sidebar fixed, reader are more likely to notice the ad and more likely to click it. its pretty annoying at first look. but we get used to of it. I also implemented this in my Websitewebsite ( but saw a drop in organic traffic. Couldnt understand why traffic drops by changing a few CSS codes of sidebar but it happens.

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