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have you recently looked at monitor loaded with the AOL junk for exmample or any other stuff for that matter.
The other side of the coin is this: if you design at 760px wide, centre the whole page. It sounds a bit stupid, but for the users with a larger screen, it will be smack bang in the middle. Those with the smaller resolution will not even notice.
But I don't understand why so many use fixed layouts, they are an old thing now - fluid sites are cropping up more and more. There is little difference between 0 to 760px and 0% to 100%. The only real difference is coping with the few fixed size items you may have (graphics), but this is easy to work around and get to work correctly.
PS: 760px assumes that the user does not have the history or favourites open on the left hand side. This is a user definable setting and the width of the side bar is also user dependant. Setting a site to 760px width will create horizontal scrolling for users of 800px width screens with the side bar open. Fluid will usually cope with this a lot better.
PS (number 2!): Because TFT screens are a defined size at time of manufacturer design, more and more computers are arriving with different resolutions to 800x600. These include laptops in particular, but many with 17" TFT and larger are now being factory set at larger resolutions and even some 13"-14" TFT screens are being set to 1024x768 now.
Ever notice how a newspaper breaks off its text into columns?
Ever notice how books don't? ;)
Ok, a bit off topic, but books are intended to keep your attention for long periods of time. Newspapers are not. A newspaper article starts with a strong heading to tell you what the article is about. It's normally followed by a paragraph summing up the article in bold. Then it's followed by the article itself. At any time the reader can break off once they've absorbed the info they need, be it from the heading, the introduction paragraph, or the whole story.
Different media, different objectives.
There are reasons that a book is only X inches high and X inches wide.
Books and newspapers, and in fact all print media are size constrained. Now that I think of it, all media, until the web, is framed by some type of fixed width.
It's only the web that is fluid. Which isn't a bad thing.
You can create a fluid layout with tables sized in percentages or with CSS. Search the site for "fluid layout" and you'll find lots of discussion.
I think that 2003 produced a lot of fixed sites, including many sites that are fixed but take pains to look fluid. More fluid ones seem to be on the horizon in 2004, though, from what I've seen.
Reading "Web Style Guide" (Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton), they suggest that whilst the safe area for graphics is 760px for screen use, the maximum is only 560px if users are likely to want to print the page. Then there's the problem of people accessing the web with smaller devices: laptops, PDAs and mobile phones. The trend now may be towards larger screen sizes, but who knows how it will pan out over the next few years?
Graphic that another story
Imho one should be sure it fits properly in the main 800 to 1200 ... or fix to fit 750
Although the real 560 real estate was also mentioned earlier
I do not like it but there is some truth in stating better viewed in this or that resolution, graphic oriented sites are artistically designed therefore one should respect the way the developer intends its site to be seen