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  1. #1
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    When do we bail on 800x600?

    The site that's in my sig below is set up for an 800x600 display, because the research I did prior to building it suggested that 800x600 was still the display setting for some 45-50% of browsers.

    However, my site's been up for a little bit (two months in "soft open" mode, almost a week since a small portion of the marketing kicked in), and here's the trend I'm seeing, according to StatCounter.com:

    800x600: 23%
    Higher than 800x600: 77%

    I'm considering a "threshold" at which point I would re-do the layout of the pages to be "best viewed" at 1024x768; however, I have no "gut" feeling on where that cut-off point should be. For example - when the 800x600 people make up less than 10% of my user base, there is absolutely no point in keeping the layout optimized for that low of a resolution. But should the cutoff be higher than 10%?

    I could make much better use of the real estate on the page than I am right now; but do I continue to let 77% of the users see a less-than-optimal layout for the sake of the 23% with low resolution settings?

    Would love some opinions.

    Thanks,
    Neil
    imusicians.com
    The new website for musicians.
    More features. Less money. And a lot less bull.

  2. #2
    $this->toCD-R(LP); vinyl-junkie's Avatar
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    Number one, I still have an 800 x 600 resolution browser, and it doesn't look like you're making good use of the real estate you have for that resolution, let alone anything larger than that. There is around a third of the right-hand side of my screen that has the black background only.

    Number two, specify width in percentages rather than pixels in your tables, and your problem is solved, regardless of a visitor's browser resolution.

    Hope this helps.
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    vinyl junkie beat me to it but I looked at your site and thought the same thing. Your "content area" could be much larger.

  4. #4
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    I have set aside the right column for advertising and links to other content. (I just haven't gotten around to filling that column yet. ) So that column isn't there because of a design flaw, it's because when the rest of the marketing kicks in about a month from now, there will be content there that is currently asbent.

    But Leo, I absolutely agree with you - my situation is that I want the left column (nav bar) to be 130 pixels wide, the right column to be 250 pixels wide, and the center column (or as you aptly called it, the "content area") to take up the rest. And on an 800x600 display, that only leaves me about 375px in a 762px table.

    For that reason, it seemed that percentages were impractical. (Even MSN's website, which mine **loosely** borrows layout from, is set for an 800x600 resolution, rather than percentages.)
    imusicians.com
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by imusicians
    For that reason, it seemed that percentages were impractical. (Even MSN's website, which mine **loosely** borrows layout from, is set for an 800x600 resolution, rather than percentages.)
    Percentages aren't impractical. Using a 3 column css design you can set absolute width for the outside columns, and let the content area take up 100% of the space left.

    But assuming your happy with 800x600 design, just nest your entire design within a centered 800px div. The wasted margins to either side are not uncommon, and doesn't look too bad assuming the content is centered. The only downside is the lost space.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict Brak's Avatar
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    You should also realize that while many people have larger than 800x600 screens, perhaps their browsers are still roughly the same. I know that anyone running AOL on a 1024x768 screen will have a browser window 780 pixels wide.

    I still design for 800x600 because 23% is still a lot to me. I probably wont design for larger resolutions (static of course) for another 5 or 10 years. But that's just my opinion.
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  7. #7
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    Also, I see that you're looking at the sign-up page, rather than the home page. (The sign-up page is the one I post in links, force of habit.)

    Check the home page to see what I mean.
    imusicians.com
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  8. #8
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    A_Brisson - thanks for the tip; it never occurred to me that I could mix between pixels and percentages. I guess the control freak in me still wants the page to look one way and one way only. But I'll experiment with your suggestion and see where I end up. Thanks for your help!

    Brak - thanks for actually answering my question. I knew someone would eventually. But I assume that rather than adopting a certain time frame (ie 5 years, as you said), it would be more prudent to wait until users at a certain resolution dropped below a threshold, otherwise we'd still be building sites for 640x480 users, no? I appreciate your input.

    Regards,
    Neil
    imusicians.com
    The new website for musicians.
    More features. Less money. And a lot less bull.

  9. #9
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Do you really think 800x600 usage will drop? Is moving to higher resolutions going to be a consistent trend? Will there be a day when we're talking about droping support for 1024x768?

    Nope.

    800x600 isn't going to be out-dated. People will still use it on devices with smaller screens, regular-sized screens, or even large ones when they want things to appear larger -- especially if they have trouble seeing.

    Then there's mobile devices, PDAs, etc... 320x240 anyone?

    Make designs that are comfortable on 800x600, and that can degrade gracefully on even smaller ouput. It's not going anywhere.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  10. #10
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    Sites like browserwatch.com suggest that 800x600 use is seeing significant declines, albeit slowly. And discussions like "800x600 isn't going anywhere" seem reminiscent of lines like "I don't know why anyone would ever need more than 40MB of hard drive space." (Or was it 640k of RAM? I forget - it's a Bill Gates quote, I think, from 1980-something.)

    After all - one day, the internet will be obsolete, too. It's just a question of when, and what technology will replace it. The death of the internet may be 50 years away or more, but there's no question, it will happen.

    But you raise an interesting point with 320x240 - someone came to my site the other day from a PDA; I have no idea what this site would look like on a PDA screen.
    imusicians.com
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  11. #11
    Put your best practices away. The New Guy's Avatar
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    Its up to Microsoft. If they make default resolution 1024 * 768 like they did with Windows XP and 800*600 (which made 640*480 decline) then it will probably decline.
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  12. #12
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    True... but my point is that screen resolution isn't something like hard-drive space or RAM that's necessarily an 'upgrade'.

    The format will change, for sure, but my point is that resolution should be up to the user.

    I know people using 19-inch monitors and 640x480. My mother uses 800x600 on her 17-inch, and gets very upset if my brother changes it. My aunt gets headaches trying to read most Web pages -- so she uses 800x600 and enlarges the text.

    Perhaps the overall average may change, but it's not the same thing as increasing processor speeds or new software. It's a preference for how you want things displayed to you -- not a performance issue.

    So I recommend again: design sites that are adaptable.
    Colin Temple [twitter: @cailean]
    Web Analyst at Napkyn


  13. #13
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    Okay; point taken.

    Like I said, the control freak in me is going to have a real problem releasing control of the final output up to the whims of individual browsers, rather than having one constant, but I'll play with it and see what happens.

    Regards,
    Neil
    imusicians.com
    The new website for musicians.
    More features. Less money. And a lot less bull.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy someonewhois's Avatar
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    Bail when you have under 5% of your visitors using it. Imean, your site already looks weird in Firefox.. so if you're cutting that population out, you may aswell cut out 800x600

  15. #15
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    Looks weird in Firefox?

    I'm not in a panic over that one, as Firefox browsers make up less than 0.1% of my site logs. But I'm curious what you mean - any chance you could email me a screen shot?

    Webmaster at the URL below.

    I'd be much obliged. Thanks.
    imusicians.com
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy someonewhois's Avatar
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    Haha, scratch that, that gap's in MSIE too. Sorry.

    There you go, you don't care about Firefox being 0.1% - so if 800x600 goes to 0.1% you can stop caring. If it hs 23% you most certainly should not bail out on it.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict Brak's Avatar
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    imusicians, the 5 years was really just thrown out there. I'm basically waiting fot the next big leap in web site browsing. I don't have a hard set limit really. I'm just waiting for something new to come along.

    The reason we're not designing for 640x480 is because it was never a popular resolution for internet-capable machines. Most people buy new computers and leave them factory settings in tact. Very few machines came with 640 defualt resolution and AOL installed or whatnot. Even if they did - their computers have become so slow now that it would be unlikely they would stay on the internet.

    However... there are many machines in the 500-900mhz range that came with 800x600 default resolution. This kind of computing power will last people several years and not make them want to upgrade if all they're using it for is word processing/internet. So I feel that 800x600 will stay much much longer than it's predececcor 640. On the same concept, I don't see 1024x768 lasting very long. The people that increase their resolution to this many times go a step higher - 1280x1024 seems to be a popular resolution (what I'm at right now). So I suppose I'm not waiting for the public to change their resolution, but rather waiting for the internet's browsing experience to change.
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    I would have to disagree with those that think 800X600 usage won't decline. It absolutely is and will continue. most laptops come set at 1024 and most people will leave that way. Believe it or not many people still don't know how to change it.

    imusicians - mixing fixed and fluid design works well. Especially when you want a 100% header and footer with a fixed middle.

    Yea I was aware that your right hand column is for ads. You could make those ads smaller :-)

  19. #19
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    Give it another year before even considering dropping 8 by 6

  20. #20
    I am obstructing justice. bronze trophy fatnewt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoWebDesign
    I would have to disagree with those that think 800X600 usage won't decline. It absolutely is and will continue.
    It'll decline, but it won't drop as low as 640 by 480 did. It's not going away completely, and I think it'll be worth considering for a long time. And you should absolutely not consider "dropping it".
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  21. #21
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoWebDesign
    I would have to disagree with those that think 800X600 usage won't decline. It absolutely is and will continue. most laptops come set at 1024 and most people will leave that way. Believe it or not many people still don't know how to change it.
    with all due respect, you're missing the point. yes most PCs/Laptops nowadays come preset to 1024x768. however, parallel to that, there's more and more "net enabled" devices gaining acceptance. palmtops, web phones, tablets, internet fridges (?)...all with small display devices. also, in terms of accessibility (which, after all, is what this part of the forum is about) people with failing eyesight (as opposed to eagle-eyed 20 something web designers with 20/20 vision) will tend to change their display settings to suit their needs. just because the factory setting is 1024, doesn't mean people won't change it.

    to paraphrase newt and get a bit of WCAG flavour in here: design for device independence.
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  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatnewt
    It'll decline, but it won't drop as low as 640 by 480 did. It's not going away completely, and I think it'll be worth considering for a long time. And you should absolutely not consider "dropping it".
    I would have to agree with that. I certainly wasn't advocating not designing for cross resolution.

  23. #23
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    Well then here's the dumb question:

    If we're supposed to design for device independence, what do I do when an advertiser wants to buy a 760x80 (or whatever size) banner ad?

    That won't fit on a 320x240 display, or a 640x480 - so should I not sell that ad size?
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    with all due respect, you're missing the point. yes most PCs/Laptops nowadays come preset to 1024x768. however, parallel to that, there's more and more "net enabled" devices gaining acceptance. palmtops, web phones, tablets, internet fridges (?)...all with small display devices. also, in terms of accessibility (which, after all, is what this part of the forum is about) people with failing eyesight (as opposed to eagle-eyed 20 something web designers with 20/20 vision) will tend to change their display settings to suit their needs. just because the factory setting is 1024, doesn't mean people won't change it.

    to paraphrase newt and get a bit of WCAG flavour in here: design for device independence.
    Well, I honestly can't say I'm up on resolutions used for refridgerators lol....but it sounds like your saying that smaller devices are more apt to be used at 800X600 which seems a bit backwards to me.

    I'm with you though on the accessibility thing *pushing glasses up with finger* ;-) I stand corrected and get the point.

  25. #25
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeoWebDesign
    but it sounds like your saying that smaller devices are more apt to be used at 800X600
    i'd say devices such as mobile phones, for instance, can go down to even way below that resolution.
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