If you go to a web designer and say 'Give me a great home page', they will usually come back with a nice looking fixed width design.
The look is all groovy banners of attractive people talking and smiling in the middle of your home page and maybe somewhere you have some lines of recent content. Not too much though as it doesn't look as great as this cool flash animation that I've done for you and hey it's just lines of text right.
Now a layout like this has a nice wow factor for when you show the execs or are new to your business SBS site. But on day two whilst you're trying to find anything to read or later on when you decide to do things like say build a table with more than 3 columns or maybe even compare a doc side by side the amount of scrolling one has to do starts to become a chore. The wow factor has got in the way of the usability factor.
Jive SBS out of the box has an elastic layout, that means that things like widgets are fixed width and other areas expand or contract depending on the browser. For usability this is great, I like it when the designer allows me to use the full width of the 26" monitor that I bought rather than assuming that I'd be happy with the same workspace as the person with that old 17" that they never get around to replacing and who dominate the lowest 12% of visitors.
Of course this means that there has to be some compromise on the home page, graphics to the sides and potentially resizable widgets in the middle. A great example I think is the EMC home page, the image I got from Chuck Hollis's excellent blog.
Have a look and you have the nice graphics but what springs to mind is that this isn't a website in the traditional brochure sense, this is bang on focused on the people! A huge recent content widget in the middle, polls, tags, all sorts of people focused goodness. Looks good for the wow factor but doesn't get in the way of usability. Now am not sure if the layout is fixed or elastic but then elastic it could be as there is nothing stopping this from happening, especially if the theme designer is intelligent in how they built the banner.
Now for customer facing sites such as Clearstep I can understand that fixed is more important because it controls more strongly the look, but for internal SBS sites where documents are more complex and usability is key to productivity do elastic layouts have the edge?
What is your opinion? Fixed or Elastic layout for Internal sites and what have you done?