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.