I was feeling pretty bad about switching to a fixed-width design (one where the web page does not expand to fit the entire browser window), but then I found that there is an ongoing debate about just this issue going on right now, with more and more people supporting fixed-width for the design control vs. fluid designs that maximize use of screen real estate. What are the advantages? When you’re designing for fluid it’s much more difficult, and you often can’t do things or line things up without an excessive amount of tinkering and tables nested within tables and all that. And then, to top it off, your nicely formatted paragraphs of text end up expanding to fill the entire screen, looking awful with paragraphs being only one or two lines long, and the reader having to move their eyes all the way across the screen to read it, which is just a very bad situation. There is a reason books and newspaper columns are narrow. And I should know — I write all my papers using LATEX, which uses nicer fonts and much larger margins then Microsoft Word and the like for the express purpose of making things more readable and easier on the eye.
I’m still not sure I really like fixed width in all situations (I often find sites that use it very contraining, and it’s annoying when you have a large monitor and the site was designed for a small one), but I might just be going with it anyway, because I like how it looks for my site. Hmm.