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Time to increase your Fixed page width.
HLTc




msg:4403687
 6:58 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Disclaimer: This topic is only for Fixed-Width site discussions. Not for those who have a 100% flexible width design.

According to stats all over the web, more than 85% of users are now on 1280 resolution or higher. Among that 85% nearly 60% are 1366 or higher.

I believe that means its time to increase our fixed-width minimum to at least 1280.

I realize there are still 15% using lower resolutions. But that number is just going to continue getting smaller and smaller in the coming months. 10%. 8%. 5. When you adjust your site, you adjust it looking forward - 5 years from now when 2% of people are below 1024, will your site still be tiny?

Just like when 800x600 went the way of the dinosaur, the stragglers will need to deal with the inconvenience. Just like the 800x600'ers they can scroll left and right, and they'll still be able to see all the center content just fine. They'll miss out on sidebars. Same exact thing that happened last time.

The additional real estate will do volumes for my site's design. I would kill for more width, for many reasons. You fit more on the page, closer to the top, and the psychology of feeling "cramped" decreases for the user.

More importantly, the 85% on high resolutions wont have to use a microscope to view your site anymore. It will look like it "should" on their computers.

Is it time to increase our fixed-width sites to 1280?

If not, why not?

 

tangor




msg:4403688
 7:03 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree, and suggest a corresponding increase in base font size to keep things readable!

ken_b




msg:4403689
 7:11 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

The additional real estate will do volumes for my site's design.

Are you building this site to appease your ego, or to be useful for your visitors?

Don't confuse screen size with browser window size, an all to common oversight on the part of designers and/or webmasters. Window size and screen size are too very different things, both need to be considered carefully.

HLTc




msg:4403707
 7:45 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Are you building this site to appease your ego, or to be useful for your visitors?

I wont even justify this comment with a response.

Regarding your 2nd comment, I assume you're trying to say that some people don't set their browsers to full screen. That unique variable isn't taken into consideration when designing website width. If you're referring to browser scrollbars reducing with, that is already taken into account when designing for a certain width.

HLT

ken_b




msg:4403712
 7:51 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wont even justify this comment with a response.

Too late, you just did. :)

some people don't set their browsers to full screen. Those aren't part of this discussion.

Why not? Do you have stats showing that few if any of your visitors set the browser window smaller than full screen?

tangor




msg:4403713
 7:52 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

One can track the window size and see what is used by visitors. As webmasters we tend (as a group) to have lots of windows/sessions open and are NOT the average web user. There are valid points in both observations... I'm just in the camp that (okay... I'm a fluid guy NOW, but I wasn't three years ago) it is time to rethink. Gather the data, find that median point, then set width. My comment is that with the higher screen resolutions the fonts render correspondingly smaller and that should be taken into consideration if one is going to make any layout change.

HLTc




msg:4403722
 8:11 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

KenB: You're being a troll. Please dont ruin this thread.

Tangor: People who mess with their browser window are not considered when determining web page width. For obvious reasons. Everyone resizes differently. Its logically impossible to design for that. So Ken's suggestion is just plain silly, and has absolutely no logic to it.

Can we get back on topic and not let the guy who doesn't know the difference between "to" "two" and "too" ruin the discussion?

("an all to common oversight...window size and screen size are too very different things")

HLT

jecasc




msg:4403727
 8:31 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree with those that say screen width is not browser size.

The good thing about big screens is, that I can open multiple windows at once. I put the browser on the left half on the screen, open a video in the upper right corner and Skype in the lower right.

And when I surf websites that do not have a fixed screen width - like webmasterworld - I often reduce the browser width to make the text more readable. I don't find it very comfortable to read a paragraph that is stretched over a full wide screen.

And while I do not have any stats I simply don't believe that I am the only one doing this. However when I look at other peoples screens I see multiple windows arranged on the screen all the time.

Not to forget that many people use smartphones or tablets to surf the web nowadays. One thing on my to do list for this year is to adjust the layout of my website so it can be comfortable viewed with 800px resolutions again, because I do not want to create a separate mobile website.

Actually with smartphones and tabs on the rise I would rather argue that we will see a decrease in resolutions.

[edited by: jecasc at 8:35 pm (utc) on Jan 4, 2012]

matrix_jan




msg:4403729
 8:34 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

What bout the growing tablet market? I keep the wrapper below 1024, and so do most of the giant websites...

tangor




msg:4403730
 8:36 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@HLTc... you've been a member long enough to know ken_b is not a troll... and ken_b, lighten up!

I've been at this (including ASCII based BBS) since 1985 and remember the angst we had between 640x480 and 800x600. That said, when screen res goes up, and with the "graphic window" based OS has followed, there are some who open as many windows as possible, and some who routinely view full screen.

What needs to be considered, more than anything, is WHO IS VIEWING? How old are their eyes? Are they forced to browser zoom just to read? Have they decided that's too much trouble and have set a personal minimum (an color, etc.) in the browser which overrides the webmaster's pride and joy?

I run 1920 by 1080. Lots of real estate, but my eyes aren't what they used to be so Zoom Zoom Zoom 90% of every site these days. Browser is either 800ish or full screen, depending on the content to be viewed, or whether those other windows I have open are more important.

A fixed site coded to 1200+ and I'd miss quite a bit... most of which will probably be adsense. (Don't see that anyway, personally browse with NoScript active)

One can go back to "the day" with a "Best Viewed Full Screen" reminder prominently displayed, or one can code with the full knowledge that some percentage---I'm guessing about 40%---will not see the site in full glory. And if they have to zoom it up to be legible, then site is "busted" anyway. All these caveats aside, there's nothing wrong with coding in anticipation that at least 60%---again a guess as to how many full screen---will see the site as intended.

phranque




msg:4403781
 11:16 pm on Jan 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

it is possible to measure and track viewport dimensions in google analytics.
it may prove enlightening to your decision.

pageoneresults describes how in the following thread.
http://www.webmasterworld.com/html/4395640.htm [webmasterworld.com]:
How do we track viewport dimensions in GA?

_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Viewport', 'load', $(window).width() + 'x' + $(window).height(), $(window).width()]);

^ Shows up in GA > Audience > Technology > Browser & OS > Screen Resolution

ken_b




msg:4403799
 12:07 am on Jan 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

A fixed width design sized at anything beyond 1024 is probably going to be an issue for a lot of people.

Even with a 1280 width screen, and a full screen browser window, if the visitor simply has a bookmark/favorites sidebar open at its minimum width, they are probably maxing out the screen.

God forbid that the design includes full width lines of text in a paragraph that stretches to 25 lines. That's probably just to difficult for most visitors to read comfortably.

And the posters that mentioned tablets and mobile stuff have a good point.

I have a fixed width site design. It's pretty narrow at 728 pixels.

Even if one breaks the width into columns so individual lines are a readable width, I just can't see the point in designing a site that intentionally makes using the site more difficult for my visitors.

I also can't see much value in a design that hides whatever is important enough to place above the fold by putting it off screen and visible only via the use of a scroll bar.

I suppose one could always code the site to over ride the visitors setting and force it to open full screen. That should make the site even more popular.

and ken_b, lighten up!

Hey! Dint ya see the :) ?

:)

lucy24




msg:4403800
 12:12 am on Jan 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

One can track the window size and see what is used by visitors.

Even then... Is the window that wide because people like viewing things at that width, or because they've just arrived from a site that forced them to change to that width in order to see essential material along the right side? Let's assume for the sake of discussion that sites don't force you to make a window narrower than you like. (Hm. Interesting design challenge there.)

Tablets are in some ways amazingly retro. It's like jumping back 20-plus years to before MultiFinder (for those of y'all who even remember the term). One window at a time, one application, and the window takes up the entire screen.

For comparison purposes: I've been working on an e-text that tries to replicate the Highly Distinctive layout of the original,* so there are bits of javascript that read the actual line length or current position of a given word. Text area, not complete window width. And of course there are a backup routines for browsers that don't divulge this particular information. (Entirely separate from <noscript> versions.) My first backup seemed like a safe guess: assume that the browser's window width is half of the total screen width. Screen 1280 : window 640.

Wrong. Reports from assorted humans on assorted computers had one line overflowing when I worked on this assumption. I've now set it to an outer limit of 600px unless the browser explicitly tells me otherwise.


* Tristram Shandy. If you've read it, you know what I mean. If you haven't, take my word for it.

tangor




msg:4403830
 1:42 am on Jan 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hey! Dint ya see the :) ?

Did I miss the warm fuzzies? (nudge nudge wink wink!)

Even if one breaks the width into columns so individual lines are a readable width, I just can't see the point in designing a site that intentionally makes using the site more difficult for my visitors.

I do like the concept of column presentations for wide screen, but other than experimental work, I've never implemented since there are no exact and solid measures for full screen users. We'd like to think that news-column would work, but unless we take over the screen we have no way of knowing our intended audience is of like mind. As lucy24 points out the new devices in vogue (tables, phones) are heading back to retro res measures. Of course we can detect the device and serve content appropriate, but that makes more work.

Marshall




msg:4403845
 3:19 am on Jan 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

What bout the growing tablet market? I keep the wrapper below 1024, and so do most of the giant websites...


Agreed. But there is a key element I did not see mentioned which many overlook.

If you have an extremely wide design, and presuming a three column layout with content in the middle, and you have short paragraphs, the viewer gets one or two v e r y l o n g s e n t e n c e s which, IMHO, looks stupid and makes your page look thin on content no matter how relevant it may be.

Now picture that and a long side navigation and you get a lot of white space under your content. Again, IMHO, looks stupid.

NAV CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT SIDE
NAV CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT SIDE
NAV CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT SIDE
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV
NAV FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER
NAV FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER FOOTER

A dynamic width is great, but limit its width and center the whole thing in the window.

Marshall

Status_203




msg:4403970
 9:46 am on Jan 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree with the position that larger screens and tablets (& phones) will push the need to accommodate lower resolutions again. I'm on 1600xsomething and expect to be able to accommodate two windows side by side. A site that has essential stuff past 760-770px is already a reason not to come back (unless it is absolutely irreplacable). Scrolling sideways is more of a pain on the desktop than on a tablet!

And despite the disclaimer in the OP, (and despite the fact that my own sites currently use fixed width designs ;) ), I'll still say that a fixed width design is in most cases doing potential visitors a disservice for the sake of the developer's convenience. Which puts you at risk of a competitor coming along and doing it better.

HLTc




msg:4404282
 3:27 am on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

@HLTc... you've been a member long enough to know ken_b is not a troll... and ken_b, lighten up!

Actually having used forums for 12 years now, its usually the guy with 4,000+ posts who makes the most unhelpful, difficult, or snarky comments. Not sure why. They usually know more, but they always seem to interject something annoying. Maybe they've been around too long and are just bored. But its no coincidence Ken has 4000+ posts... :) <---

Moving on ...

The tablet thing I had not considered. Are tablets and iphones and "mobile" all considered pretty much the same "genre" ? If so, then wouldn't having a separate "mobile" site be the solution? The latest issues of Entrepreneur magazine has declared 2012 and onward to be the upsurge of mobile online revenue. Mobile is the new trend, so the guy above who commented that this is the most important emerging market is probably correct. I am new to that world however so please let me know if a mobile site is a sufficient solution.

To be completely honest trying to make your main site work on mobile "width" is all good and well, but nothing loads as fast as those extremely simplified "Mobile" versions of web sites. They are faster, easier, and far more useful on a tiny iphone screen than trying to browse a "regular" web site that happens to "fit" on the phone display.

I am still of the opinion that people who manually shrink their browsers are not the majority, but I respect your viewpoints. I have seen those people who have slightly cascaded windows and if they run across a page they cant see all of, they simply "widen" the window, or pop it to full screen. I probably would never do my entire design based on that group of people.

I guess I'll continue monitoring what sites like CNN, and the other big sites do. I figure they have millions invested and know their stuff.

As someone mentioned, your site content is a big factor. Amazon.com looks great. And its an "adjustable" width site. Sidebars stay fixed. Center stretches. That is great when your center content is a bunch of thumbnail images. But my site is mostly text. Its like a book. Thousands of pages of reading with images mixed in.

The nightmares that introduces were insane after awhile. (We used to have an adjustable width site). I spent so much time trying to get it to look good. At some resolutions it looked ridiculous and cramped. At other resolutions it looked sparse and stretched out. In the end, it looked like crap most of the time.

At least with fixed width, I was able to present a beautiful web site that always looked beautiful.

HLT

HLTc




msg:4404285
 3:51 am on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I feel like I should repeat the original question though:

over *EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT* (85%) of people are on 1280 resolution or higher

At least as far as desktop goes (and assuming you have a separate mobile site) why not pop the new minimum to 1280?

matrix_jan




msg:4404287
 4:03 am on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

HLTc,

85% of desktop/laptop users?

Just take your time and visit giants like facebook, yahoo, ebay... Notice anything? all are below 1000...

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