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Say I want to create a design that's going to be comfortably viewable at a screen resolution of 800x600 (since tons of people are still using it). Does this simply mean I have to make sure that the main visible content is no wider than 800 pixels?
But hang on - isn't there browser 'chrome' - parts of the browser and OS GUI - to take into consideration as well? So presumably this reduces it some more? Let's say I leave a 25-pixel margin either side for that stuff - that leaves 750px width.
Am I therefore right in thinking that my designs should collapse to no narrower than 750px (no horizontal scroll bars before you hit that width)? And to accommodate those with wider screens, I should somehow impose some sort of maximum width (what width?).
I say I'm confused because if I mock up a design that's forced to fit inside those 750px width dimensions, it looks tiny, and some of my other web pages certainly don't fit (as neither do several "big" websites)... Or have I missed something here?
There is also a school of thought for making webpages liquid where possible i.e. they get wider and thinner depending on the browser window. This can be hard to achieve in my experience and even when you do implement a liqud design you will need to use a maximum width and a minimum width to force your design to behave.
But anyway I take it that 760px is the "golden number", in that a website should still be properly viewable as small as 760px wide. If so, that's what I'll use! Thanks!
(Perhaps there are similar values for minimum width, now that more people are getting widecreen displays?)
Of course I can see how percentages can be useful here. But are there (could there be) design scenarios where using percentages couldn't guarantee that a design will still be properly viewable when it is displayed as small as 760px wide?
I use Opera and it has a feature you can turn on that shows the actual size of the window in pixels. I drag the window edge to resize it with my test page in it, watching for changes in display or the appearance of the horizontal scrollbar. The window size numbers in the browser chrome tell me exactly what window dimension trips the problem.