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Weblog Entry

Target Resolution

April 03, 2003

I was asked just recently why I chose to design this site for screen resolutions greater than 800x600. I was wondering when I’d get called on this.

The current design for mezzoblue features a luxuriously wide 900x45 pixel header graphic, and the rest of the site follows suit below it. If you compare to my previous narrower design, you’ll see I was still targetting 800x600 at that point.

With this revision, I realized that my target audience knows better. I write about what I do for a living — it’s a small community, but an educated. I can’t imagine a web designer running at 800x600, and even 1024 is too small for the clustered palettes of Photoshop, Illustrator, and others. (ImageReady is a complete mess, for example.)

That’s not to say I don’t get spill–over traffic from other folks — the odd Google search brings in people running systems that make me cringe. I have NN3 in my log file, for heaven’s sake. But these people are not my primary audience and in most cases I don’t expect them to stick around due to dry content, not incompatible resolution.

You will notice however that my content area is on the left, and only incidental links are on the right. If you come in at even 640x480, you’ll still get the entire content area in the main window without having to scroll. As well, I threw together an ultra stripped–down version for the same reason (as well as to save bandwidth for anyone who choses to use it). These are my concessions, and they are good enough for me.

I have to admit, since I’m forced to run 1024 on my laptop and LCD at home, I sometimes kick myself for making it quite so large. I don’t need a full–screen window but I’m getting used to having extra desktop poking through at work, so filling most of the screen is an annoyance. Maybe I’ll do something about this in a future revision. Maybe not.

My answer, in short, is that by using what I know of my audience, I can take certain things for granted and target my site a bit further. I have the room to play with the ‘rules’ and have some fun — so that’s what I plan on doing.


Reader Comments

1
Keith says:
April 03, 10h

Hey man, I couldn’t agree more. The site looks great on my system (powerbook, safari, 1024x780) and like you said, it’s all about your audience. The concessions you mention are more than enough to take care of those other folks and hey the stipped-down version is a great idea and alternative for the people who’d rather just get at the content.

Bottom line - it’s your site. You don’t have to answer to anybody.

2
jonathan says:
April 04, 05h

This site design is absolutely gorgeous. You’ve provided plenty of contingency for those who need it and it’s a treat to view for your target audience. Who, I agree, for the most part are likely running resolutions that display it as intended.

3
Dave says:
April 04, 08h

Thanks guys! I was intrigued by the original question because it was asked in a spirit of curiosity and learning. I still stand by my choice, even though my frustration at window size at 1024x768 grows daily… More important fish to fry, however.

4
Lenny says:
November 11, 06h

If you’re excluding a certain portion of your viewers, why not exclude IE users instead of low-resolution users? Use CSS’s little-used max-width with a liquid layout attribute for maximum readability on Mozilla and Opera (I haven’t tested Safari.) IE will render at full width while standard-compliant browsers will limit their width. As you said, this site is made for web designers: a population that generally uses compliant browsers.

This argument comes from personal experience:

1. A year or so ago my monitor burned out and I was forced to use an old monitor at 640x480. Many sites were annoyingly wide or even unreadable, while others scaled down gracefully.

2. My paranoid school prohibits changing display properties, and (until buying new computers this year) were locked in 800x600.

I’m sure there are many different situations besides mine that restrain somebody to a low resolution. A liquid layout would benefit such people. The CSS max-width attribute makes your site equally good on resolutions that are “too high” for a scalable design.

Oh, and your MOSe campaign could benefit.