Screen Resolution and Your Website Design

6/26/2009

I met with a client today who in the process of discussing the design of his website asked me a question which had never been asked of me before. A day or two previous to our discussion he had gone to my website and viewed my portfolio of website designs. What he noticed apparently annoyed him and so he posed this question, “Why do all of your sites have a frame around them with so much empty space on the sides?” It took me a second to comprehend what he was referring to as I mentally tried to picture some of my most recent designs. Suddenly it occurred to me what he was noticing, so I asked, “The monitor you use at home is a bit larger than the one here in you office, isn’t it? Probably a 22″ or so.” He confirmed with a surprised (or confused) expression possibly because he wasn’t quite sure what I was getting at. So I explained to him that most of my websites are designed with the average screen size in mind and that his 22″ display was above average. I recommended that he try to view those same sites on his office computer which had a 1024px wide resolution which is within the current average.

A good web designer should always be considerate of screen resolution. There are many methods for dealing with the multitude of screen resolutions. Allowing the site to stretch to fit the screen (liquid layout) is one method but can result in some odd formatting as the site gets stretched to a 24″ monitor or compressed by a 17″. You could left justify the design and allow it to stretch to the right which can also cause some formatting issues. You can accommodate the average screen resolution and create a site with fixed values (fixed width) which allows you to control and position elements predictably but doesn’t take full advantage of screen real estate. With all of the options available there doesn’t seem to be any one that is significantly better than the others. Really it’s just a matter of preference for the designer and client.

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