[Web4lib] 800x600 Browser Resolution

Kevin.Cullen at UCHSC.edu Kevin.Cullen at UCHSC.edu
Wed Aug 2 13:00:17 EDT 2006

I would argue that wide-screen monitors are becoming an argument in
favor of fixed-width layouts. On my 21" 1680 x 1050 LCD monitor, a Web
site set to 80%-100% width is so wide that the text is unreadable.
Granted, I don't normally have my browser window maximized on that
monitor, but some people might.

Research has shown that the optimal width of text is 3.5 to 10 inches*
(8.9 to 25.4cm). Anything longer is too hard to read. In an age when
monitors are getting wider, and people are running two windows side by
side, we can't make any presumptions about the width of their browser
windows. On my monitor, a line of text could be as much as 48cm (18.9
inches) long. That's way too much.

Think about broadsheet newspapers: They put text content in relatively
narrow columns. Images are wider. Newspaper readers can adjust their
width by folding the paper, and still be able to read the content
reasonably well. Web designers should aim for the same.

* See this link: http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/nov02.asp

- Kevin Cullen
  Denison Memorial Library - UCDHSC
  kevin.cullen at uchsc.edu


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2006 12:04:38 -0400
From: Thomas Dowling <tdowling at ohiolink.edu>
Subject: Re: [Web4lib] 800x600 Browser Resolution
To: web4lib at webjunction.org
Message-ID: <44CF7B96.3020608 at ohiolink.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

Just pay close attention to Nielsen's definition of "optimize for
1024x768".  What this article doesn't make clear is that the number of
users with 1280x1024 screens or above is roughly the same as the number
with 800x600.  So if just the commonly seen display environments range
to 150% of the low end, there's clearly no single width that fits enough
users to justify the number you're ticking off.  Factor the likely
changes to font sizes (more pixels to work with -> more pixels per
character -> higher resolution text at the same physical size), and the
increasing unpredictablity of *window* sizes as screen sizes grow, and
it should be clear that any fixed-width design is a dead end.

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