800x600 is still the second most popular resolution on our sites, although 1024x768 leads by nearly double. I still insist that information fit into 800x600 screens or at least that the important information fits within that area.
I set my "lowest common denominator" at 800 X 600 with a relatively graceful degradation to 600 W.
In fact, whenever possible I shoot for 100% width, and make sure it compresses down to 600 wide gracefully. While it's true this can present some weirdnesses on huge monitors, overall it seems to work out best.
Liquid or 740px fixed.
This is a topic I've been watching for the past few years. When my company site was launched in 1999, most viewers were equally split between 640x480 and 800x600. There were a few others, but 90% where at these resolutions. Watching my stats every month, I started seeing resolutions change so that the majority of the people were are 800x600. Then 1024x760 starting getting more popular. After accumulating a few months of data, I extrapolated that 1024x768 and 800x600 would be equal in June of 2003. I missed it by a month, it was July.
Now I'm seeing 1024x768 pull ahead of all other resolutions. Eventually, I think 1024x768 is going to be the defacto minimum resolution. However, I don't see it happening until 2007.
I think that this trend has been accelerated by 1)proliferation of laptops (many have this as the default resolution) and 2) the decrease in costs of 17/19 inch LCD monitors.
Book answer: Go fluid.
|I think that this trend has been accelerated by 1)proliferation of laptops (many have this as the default resolution) and 2) the decrease in costs of 17/19 inch LCD monitors. |
I'd say OS with default settings play bigger role -- many people have no clue that resolution can be changed! Windows XP had 1024x768 by default.
Itís all very exhausting and trivial in the grand scheme of things. Especially trivial since such a logical solution exists to remove the problem totally.
Itís the book answer for a reason.
Resolution really depends on your market. If you have a computer site you could probably be safe with designing for 1024 on the other hand a site for a less tech savvy group could still have a majority 800px or less users (and these users don't know how to change their resolution even if they wanted to). The best way to tell is to run scripts on your site that indicate what your user base uses. The best yet way to do it is to design for the lowest possible resolution or design where the site has non essential content outside of the lowest screen resolution but looks good in lower ones (ex espn or foxnews)
|Itís the book answer for a reason. |
There are good reasons for avoiding fluid designs, too. My site looks equally great for both resolutions, which many fluid designs can't claim. And using those two fixed-width layouts results in some pretty clear advantages, such as the sidebars staying a usable width without expanding to be too wide, and maximizing the actual viewing area. And it's not that complex, once it's set up.
I consider my solution a happy medium between fixed-width and fluid. No, it's not perfect, but none of the alternatives were either. In the end, it comes down to analyzing the situation and needs, and making an informed choice of the available options.