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I will like to know if there is best practice regarding designing a website for a big corporation.

I am specifically talking about the width of the website. I have a believe that websites with full (width: 100%) width are most suited for business and corporate websites, while widths of lesser percentages with margin: 0 auto; are best suited to blogs and personal websites.

So, my question is: Is this a rule of thumb or my assertions are false ?

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"if there is best practice regarding designing a website for a big corporation" = no –  DA01 Aug 1 '13 at 13:29

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I work as a web designer for a medium-to-large SaaS corporation, and spend a lot of time looking for best practices and solid ideas for our corporate website.

I would argue that very few corporate websites use a width: 100%. Most have a max-width set, though a lot of new corporate websites are becoming responsive.

Here are three solid examples of what I consider to be corporate websites (though most of them are selling their products right from the homepage):

As you can see, all of these have a max-width set somewhere. Most corporate websites I've seen incorporate some sort of max-width.

Here's a few trends that extend throughout these three sites, but also a lot of new corporate designs:

  • Solid, bold colors within different sections and blocks. Using white as a main background color is becoming less and less common--bring in your brand colors using strong, big colored blocks.
  • Less use of shadows and gradients to create depth. They're still used very predominately in CTA's, however.
  • Grid layout structure
  • Fully responsive design (try sizing down your browser)
  • More photography, graphics, illustrations, etc. are making their way into corporate site design. However, all these design elements feel very in-line with the brand and are likely established by a brand guide that defines these styles through all their print and web media.

I would concentrate less on determining a width of a site, which is largely determined by the content you're trying to support, and focus on picking up on some of these other trends.

Most of these trends for corporate site design work well with a grid-like, fully responsive layout that has a max-width. Most seem to have a max-width over 960px (most seem around 1000-1200px).

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Thank you for your answer. I most appreciate it. –  dotman14 Aug 2 '13 at 6:56

I will like to know if there is best practice regarding designing a website for a big corporation.

Many corporations operate in Internet Explorer so if developing a corporate site I would highly recommend you develop around IE.

I am specifically talking about the width of the website. I have a believe that websites with full (width: 100%) width are most suited for business and corporate websites, while widths of lesser percentages with margin: 0 auto; are best suited to blogs and personal websites.

So, my question is: Is this a rule of thumb or my assertions are false?

The rule of thumb in any situation is to design based on content being delivered to the audience. An older corporation with a wider age demographic would highly use a full width scenario for possible viewing reasons. A teen based site, even some design corporations, don't adhere to the full width view and try to produce a minimalistic approach. By doing this they still are a corporation but dont use the full width.

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First you have to answer an important question:

What exactly do you mean by 100% width?

Backgrounds? In some sense, that's always 100% (the browser will put something there). WordPress templates made horizontally sectioned 100% width backgrounds painfully common.

Or content? Content that continuously expands to fill the full viewport is rare, certainly among corporate sites. Pinterest does it as well as a handful of WordPress and other templates that copy it. Aside from those visual assault approaches, it's usually a bad idea from a UX standpoint and complicated from a design standpoint.

So, to echo others here, it is definitely not a rule of thumb.

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I've never heard of this as a rule of thumb, but I wouldn't necessarily say your assertions are false.

Large companies generally need websites to display correctly on nearly all screen sizes and devices with in reason. Losing 1% of users on a large corporation site hits them a lot harder than losing 1% of users on a blog or small business.

In addition, large corporations usually have more information that needs to be displayed, and the content of the site is usually more information based, with less images and decorative design elements.

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Thanks for the answer. –  dotman14 Aug 1 '13 at 12:34

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