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Just found this interesting looking forum and so here's my first post.
I was wondering what dimensions folk generally design a website to work on now that screen sizes and resolution are going ever upwards. Are you still working with a resolution of 800x600 or are you now looking towards 1024x768 as the minimum size?
Obviously if the site is variable width then it's not so much of an issue (except perhaps the minimum width).
First, let me welcome you to WebmasterWorld. Be happy to know you picked a topic that has seen a lot of debate.
There are many variables to consider when trying to figure out what width to make your site. And while I may not be able to give you a specific answer since it is such a subjective quetion, I can give you things to think about.
First, many will argue fixed vs. fluid, but that can probably be answered by "what will the page look like stretched 1200px wide or wider. Is there enough content or will there be this lond navigaiton bay on the left with a very long line of text in the content section (assuming a two column layout). In short, will it look stupid, and will it have a negative effect on the design.
Second, will the design allow me to increase the font size on a high resolution display. Fixed or fluid, it is best ot do fonts in "em" or "%" not only for screen resolution, but also accessibility.
Third, and I think very important: do people really use the full width of their screen to view a page. Right now, I have this screen one set at 1280x800, but I almost never view a page full width as I have several windows open at once and they're usualy about 900px wide, more or less. This leads to the second issue of how small to make the page.
If you do a fixed minimum width, say greater than 1000px, then someone like me will have to deal with left/right scroll bar, something I find very annoying. So as far as fixed width, my opinion is no greater than 800px, but remember, that is my opinion. And as far as setting a minimum width, not all browsers support that. You may have to use a clear .gif image to prevent the page from being pushed too small.
One thing to consider is what to the most popular sites do. You may find the best thing to be a fixed width that floats center which prevents a large gap on the right and makes the page look balanced. Of course, a nice background image or color becomes important then.
So, how do you like that - a question and no answer ;). Bottom line, think about what your visitors will be comfortable with and whether or not the design is appropriate to be stretched v e r y w i d e or if people will constintly have to scroll left/right. Those are the two factors I weigh the most.
There was a time when I was new to HTML that I would use %'s and the like. I have found over the years, however, that the optimal page size for me has been around 760px wide, placed in the center of the page with a 0px topmargin. I almost without fail use a 760px wide jpg image as the top of the page (although this is more a personal trademark than anything).
Thank you. In truth, my pet peeve is the horizontal scroll bar (and small print). If I have to use it on any setting over 800px, it's not worth my time. However, I shoulld add, if fixed widths over 800px are necessary, at least make the right column less important insofar as content. Just my 2 cents. Though I have one site that is 3 column and fluid, the right column is basically a "What's New" section with links to the RSS, Printer Friendly Version and the like. Once a person sees it on one page, they knows it's there and can ignore it on others should the horizontal scroll bar appear.
[edited by: Marshall at 1:49 pm (utc) on July 13, 2007]
I believe that most users despise scrolling side-to-side. Scrolling down is expected, but if they become irritated scrolling down too much, the page content should have probably been broken up anyway.
On computers I use the resolution is always set to the max my LCD and video card can handle, at work that's 1280w, at home my desktop is 1600w on both LCDs, and the laptop is some odd number + the second LCD (when possible) set to the closest resolution to the laptop I can find.
But having said that, I also throw my taskbar on the side of my screen, so I don't get the full resolution even when maximized.
In short, I want my sites to look good with any width over ~760.
The few people that still resort to a 640x480 screen can scroll horizontally. They're probably used to doing that already anyhow.