Designing for Screen Size: 1280x1024 1600x1200 1920x1080 or 1024x768

Most Common Screen Resolution

1024x768 Is Dead, Long Live 1024x768

Even though 1024x768 is finally NOT the most common group of screen sizes around, it appears it will still be the design standard for years to come. 

I always have the debate in my mind about how much real-estate for which to design when putting up websites. The defacto standard has been 1024x768 for years now. I haven't used this size screen since the early 90's though. Although I do have a netbook that uses 1024x600 (yeah, it is a bit too small, but for what it's for, it works fine). My main workhorse screens are 1920x1080 and 1600x1200 (UXGA). I have a few side screens and other screens at home that are 1280x1024, but they are not used for *work* so it's not too big a deal. So I always wonder when I can start designing for 1280x1024. Right? Yeah... right.

Well, W3Counter.com compiles this kinda stuff. And if you add up the 1280+ screens, it comes out to that about 55.32% are 1280pixels wide or greater. So can I? Oddly, Their stats add only to 80.64% so there is about 20% using some unknown screen sizes? Also, the stats suggest only 25.32% use 1024 or less. What are these other 20%? Phones? Stuff that just doesn't fit the collection schema apparently. 

Target Audience, Purpose Driven Design

I guess I have to really consider how critical it is to use more space. What would I use it FOR?

Would I use fixed versus fluid? Who is the audience? Public, private corporation employees? Workscreen with lots of data? Blog/News style with lots of reading? 

I guess the obvious differentiation is the purpose and target audience.

1280 Is The New King!?

For work sites, where client, account, or whatever data is displayed, I try to pack in everything I can. In a controllable target audience (all employees are issued at LEAST 1280x1024 screens) you know what you can do.

1600x1200 *Should* RULE

I'd like to see that get bigger, but 1600x1200, the next normal step up in 4:3 ration work screens, almost seem to be fading away. Not that many companies make this screen anymore.  And thus pricing is unlikely to come down enough for wide scale adoption for cubie level CSR and call center type employees to get them. The screens that will and are becoming cheaper and ubiquitous are the 1920x1080 screens. But that is an odd workspace size. To design data driven screens for that creates a lot of horizontal info. We start running into the same problem with public sites and our desire to view vertically. I even end up running most of my windows at about 1600 wide on my 1920 screens leaving a column for icons, google gadgets, task lists, utilities, winamp player, whatever. The funny thing about 1920x1080 is that even though I only lose 120 vertical pixels to a 1600x1200 screen, I really miss them. If you gave me a choice between the two for *work*, I would immediately choose two nice 1600x1200 screens over 1920x1080 any day. I want those vertical pixels. 

Will the 1920's be the new 2010? 

What if I take the 1920x1080 and flip them 90 degrees? I've tried that. It's not bad. But I am back to the 1080 pixel width.... funny, huh? The old paradigm width. 

Back to 1024, Long Live 1024...

In reality, if you are building a public site with lots of reading articles, it does not seem too useful to capture that extra 260 pixels for anything useful. You still want to maintain that vertical reading experience like newspapers have been doing for centuries. There is a reason of course. We read more efficiently when we don't have to move our eyes too far left and right. So even if I decided to use the space, i would still have to account for this factor and have it degrade to 1024 screens in a graceful manner as well.

Then if you consider how many phones are being used to read things on the web now, going wider seems crazier than ever. And if you add in interfaces that involve remote sales and executives who insist they work from their PHONE, you might end up throwing out the 1280 for workplaces rule-of-thumb.

Ah well, at least we aren't designing for 800x600 flash cards anymore! Right? Right? Please tell me I am right!

I am thinking that like the modern railroad track width being related to the ruts in the road created by wagons drawn by Roman draught animals centuries ago, we are going to be stuck with the effective 1000 pixel width for a long time to come as one of those odd standards that just becomes a standard for everything forever. 




CachedSince:{ts '2017-09-21 10:54:02'}