Designing for 800×600?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say “The site must be designed to work in 800×600 resolution”. Now there are a few cases where this definitely is a real requirement, however often it’s more of a case that people don’t want to potentially exclude people from their site (and if it’s a commercial site why wouldn’t you want to appeal to the widest possible audience?).

However, how many people really use an 800×600 resolution these days? Out of interest I took a look at the statistics from my blog (the one you’re reading right now) for yesterday (I posted a new post yesterday so it would be interesting to see the stats for the new views just for yesterday rather than over the entire lifetime of the site).

Browser Resolutions

So, whilst I’m not trying to pretend that these figures are representative of any other sites out there. They highlight a couple of things to me.

1) Nobody visited my site using 800×600 resolution.

2) The smallest resolution was 320×396 (probably an iPhone or other mobile device). After that the next smallest was 1024×768.

3) There are quite a lot of variations in browser resolution, more than I expected really.

So, what’s my point here? Well…I don’t really have one….other than -

1) Needing to support 800×600 is very different to designing the site in 800×600. In other words it’s no bad thing to have your site gracefully degrade to working nicely in 800×600, but I certainly wouldn’t make the starting design 800×600, otherwise you’d spending effort where there seems to be least reward.

2) 1024×768 is now becoming over-shadowed by higher resolutions. Most laptops these days support higher resolutions than that, let alone desktops. Most developers I know have multiple monitors too.

So, don’t be afraid of challenging the requirement of “We must design for 800×600″…how many people are *really* using it? Let’s stamp it out now…

Comments 6

  1. Paulo Vale wrote:

    Hi John,

    You must not forget the audience type. Your blog is almost for sure visited mainly by developers, that supposedly have better hardware resources than the rest of the population.

    I guess it all depends on the target of the application you’re developing. I give you an example. We have at Neoface an Internet ERP solution that is supposed to work with small POS screens.

    But if we are talking about traditional web applications/websites, you’re absolutely right… a bigger war is to get rid of ie6 :)

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 11:43 am
  2. Tim Hall wrote:

    Hi.

    I agree. It very much depends on your business and target.

    If you are Amazon, losing 5% of the market represents a massive loss, so you decision process will be different than someone building for their company intranet.

    I know lots of people that still build IE only sites because they know they have a captive audience. :)

    I think we should make web pages that fail if you are on anything but the latest browser. :)

    Cheers

    Tim…

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 12:19 pm
  3. John Scott wrote:

    Hi Paulo,

    Sure, that’s why I included the line -

    “Now there are a few cases where this definitely is a real requirement”.

    John.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 2:04 pm
  4. Niall Litchfield wrote:

    The logic still likely applies to Amazon, but it’s 3.5% not 5% as per http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=17 which is a leading source of market share information and certainly not developer related. Fuel for the fire though, 1680×1050 is a higher share of the audience and I bet the folk asking for 800×600 view it as a niche.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 2:26 pm
  5. John Scott wrote:

    Just to clarify…I’m not saying that you should make sites that don’t work in 800×600. I was trying to say that you should not design your site to ‘look best’ at 800×600 or use 800×600 as your baseline.

    John.

    Posted 06 Nov 2009 at 7:24 pm
  6. Sam Hall wrote:

    For a technology blog, I’d aim for smart phone friendly templates (mine took me about 2 hours to set up and reads well now in all resolutions).

    For applications, well that’s up to you and your clients to negotiate. I personally always go for 1024×768 as a minimum these days. 800×600 hasn’t been demanded of me for years now. More and more requests for smart phone support keep coming my way recently though.

    As you’re no doubt well aware, the standard APEX templates are a nightmare for web designers, this is the real issue. A good template should render nicely in any resolution.

    If I had the time I’d make an iPhone friendly template for APEX. For now, I generally just ask what functionality is most useful to have access to from a phone and duplicate a very small subset of the features of the system on a few iPhone specific pages.

    Posted 10 Nov 2009 at 7:51 am

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