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Thread: width

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    width

    Hi.

    What is the maximum width you should use for a webpage?

    I have created a webpage which is 1000 px wide. I would like to make it even wider if possible. Or is that not recommendable seen from a usability perspective?

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    SQL Consultant gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronAlfred View Post
    What is the maximum width you should use for a webpage?
    100%
    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
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    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    It depends upon your target audience and what type of user agent is visiting the website it could be a widescreen VDU or a 10-inch Netbook or another smaller device like a mobile phone. Like was vaguely mentioned setting an explicated dimension in pixels can be risky or create horizontal scrolling, etc.

    Generally speaking though most desktop PCs tend to be able to cope with 1000px fixed width. However, you may be better off considering percentages or relative units though if you want it to scale or accommodate different sized displays.
    Last edited by xhtmlcoder; Aug 6, 2010 at 04:41. Reason: Typographical issues.

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    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronAlfred View Post
    What is the maximum width you should use for a webpage?

    I have created a webpage which is 1000 px wide. I would like to make it even wider if possible. Or is that not recommendable seen from a usability perspective?
    What r937 said...

    Assuming I am browsing at a normal-ish kind of setup (ie, I haven't narrowed my browser to a 200px wide window just for the heck of it or set a default font size of 200px), any website that is wider than my window/tab is an automatic fail. As a surfer, I don't care about your beautiful design, all I want is a site that works for me, and that means that I only want to scroll in one direction - up and down.

    Even 1000px is not acceptable, as it will fail for a significant proportion of visitors who have narrower viewports. It may be that they are running at 800×600 (people still do!), it may be that they don't maximise the window, it may be that they have a sidebar open. Whichever it is, don't expect them to change their browsing preference to accommodate your design.

    Good practice is that you design a site that fits into a normal browser setup on an 800px wide screen. Best practice is that you design a site that makes use of the available screen space and stretches/contracts to fit the window (usually with max and min constraints).

    Do not even contemplate designing a site that requires an available width of more than 1000px. The only exception to this is when you know that the site will only ever be used in a controlled environment where you can guarantee that every user has a wide enough screen to accommodate it, eg on an intranet where all computer settings are tightly locked down.

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    SitePoint Addict AtSea webdesign's Avatar
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    The best bet is as Stevie said know your target audience. Not sure how it is overseas but most of the people browsing my sites are 1024*768 and higher. 800*600 hasn't been relevant around here for over a year so I don't code for that anymore unless specified by the client. If you need a fixed width comparable to 1000px then choose 960px wide.

    If your target audience is mostly mobile or smaller devices, set the width to either 96% or 100% so the page can adjust accordingly.

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    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    The best bet is as Stevie said know your target audience. Not sure how it is overseas but most of the people browsing my sites are 1024*768 and higher. 800*600 hasn't been relevant around here for over a year so I don't code for that anymore unless specified by the client. If you need a fixed width comparable to 1000px then choose 960px wide.
    How do you know what size browser window people are using? Even if your stats on screen dimensions are right, all that tells you is that people have a viewport no larger than 1024×768, but it certainly doesn't tell you that they are using viewports that fill the screen - as I said before, they might prefer not to have their browser window/tab maximised, or they might have a sidebar open, meaning they are not using the full available width of the screen, and your 960px wide website will overflow and some of it will hide off the right hand side.

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    SitePoint Evangelist Ed Seedhouse's Avatar
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    Well, on a compliant browser one should set a max width in em's or ex's so lines don't get too long to be readible, but otherwise the width should just be allowed to be 100%. That way it will fill the browser window unless that would make the lines too long to be easily readible.

    The point is that your page should adjust as much as possible to the user and not make the user adjust to your page. That isn't really all that hard to do using the tools available.
    Ed Seedhouse

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    SitePoint Addict AtSea webdesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    How do you know what size browser window people are using? Even if your stats on screen dimensions are right, all that tells you is that people have a viewport no larger than 1024×768, but it certainly doesn't tell you that they are using viewports that fill the screen - as I said before, they might prefer not to have their browser window/tab maximised, or they might have a sidebar open, meaning they are not using the full available width of the screen, and your 960px wide website will overflow and some of it will hide off the right hand side.
    No one in the states designs for 800*600 anymore. None of my colleagues in tech hotbeds such as Silicon Valley, LA or NYC waste their time. Most tech savvy people have the wherewithal and the ability to adjust to view a 960px layout without having a cow and moving on to another site. EVERYONE, novice to expert that has taken part in our user testing programs adjusted their browser to view the entire width of the page. Whether the container was full screen or not.

    The key is having the right content on your site that will engage your customers and pull them in. If they find something that interests them on your site, re-sizing a window a few pixels will not deter them.

    And I keep hearing all these UK and Aussie people on hear saying you HAVE to do it this way or that way or its wrong.

    What everyone across the ENTIRE PLANET needs to understand is what works for you in your neck of the woods doesn't necessarily mean that it is relevant somewhere else.

    Again depending on audience if they want a fixed width site, I set it to 960px and for liquid 96% center (to show off some of the background) or 100% width. I've been developing sites with this formula for the last 3 years and have not had ONE complaint from any of my clients or their customers. Now you may have different results in your area. Is my way right or wrong vs. your way? No. What works for me and my clients may not for you.

    Do you really surf through top and sub level pages of a web site with a sidebar open? I may initially but you either have to resize your window or close the sidebar to view it effectively.

    And even if the dimensions are not accurate, bounce rates are a good indicator of what people are looking at and for how long. That along with the engaging content comment above is a key component to customer retention and conversions which is the ultimate goal of every web site out there. Not a few pixels for horizontal scroll on an old outdated machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    No one in the states designs for 800*600 anymore.
    What does that have to do with anything? Is it okay to do something stupid just because 'everyone else' is doing it? Should we eat <snip /> because a hundred billion flies can't be wrong?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    None of my colleagues in tech hotbeds such as Silicon Valley, LA or NYC waste their time.
    So they waste hundreds of thousands of visitors' time instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    Most tech savvy people have the wherewithal and the ability to adjust to view a 960px layout without having a cow and moving on to another site.
    No-one is saying that visitors don't know how to resize; it's a matter of avoiding unnecessary actions that slow you down or is annoying.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    EVERYONE, novice to expert that has taken part in our user testing programs adjusted their browser to view the entire width of the page.
    Have you really used that many people in your testing programs that this behaviour is statistically significant? Maybe they had to maximise the windows in order to see your user-unfriendly fixed-width designs. It's not likely that someone being paid to participate in a user testing program would abandon the tested site and go elsewhere, is it? We're not talking about realistic surfing situations here. Besides test users tend to be very forgiving, wanting to be nice to those nice people who are asking them what they think.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    The key is having the right content on your site that will engage your customers and pull them in. If they find something that interests them on your site, re-sizing a window a few pixels will not deter them.
    Not if the content is good enough, no. But even if it doesn't deter them, it may very well annoy them. And why would you want to do that unless it's absolutely unnecessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    What everyone across the ENTIRE PLANET needs to understand is what works for you in your neck of the woods doesn't necessarily mean that it is relevant somewhere else.
    And you should listen to your own advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    I've been developing sites with this formula for the last 3 years and have not had ONE complaint from any of my clients or their customers.
    I'm not surprised. If I encounter a poorly crafted site that doesn't work properly, I don't bother trying to contact the site owner (most likely the contact page won't work any better than the rest of the site). I just leave and go to a competitor's site.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    Do you really surf through top and sub level pages of a web site with a sidebar open? I may initially but you either have to resize your window or close the sidebar to view it effectively.
    No, you don't have to resize your window or close the sidebar if the site is well designed by someone who understands accessibility and usability.

    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    Not a few pixels for horizontal scroll on an old outdated machine.
    Iphone et al are old and outdated? You may not have noticed, but more and more internet-capable devices are emerging these days with much smaller displays than 1000px.
    Last edited by SpacePhoenix; Aug 6, 2010 at 23:50. Reason: removed swear word
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    SitePoint Addict AtSea webdesign's Avatar
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    You are taking my quotes out of context or maybe I was tired when I wrote that post or
    misinterpreted Stevie's message.

    The point I'm trying to make is you won’t please everybody. It’s important to identify
    your audience, and build your website (on the whole) to suit that audience.
    That is what I use Analytics for to get a general idea of what the users capabilities are.

    As I stated some projects call for fixed width, some fluid. Again,
    depending on audience and goals of the project, my fixed width
    sites are based on the 960 grid. For MY audiences this is adequate but I should in the
    near future start basing all of my designs on the 100% wide liquid theory.
    (Which I do use for all of my mobile sites along with scaled down pages.)

    As far as user testing the objective is to see if the website
    is functional and easy to navigate. We pay no one. 90% of my work is
    centered around university students, faculty and staff. The goal is
    allowing them to find, view and navigate to content and find their information
    quickly and intuitively while being completely XHTML, CSS and 508 compliant.

    There are good observations in this thread. Some I agree with, some I don't. It's all
    personal preference and we all use what works for our projects.

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    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AtSea webdesign View Post
    No one in the states designs for 800*600 anymore.
    I don't believe that for a second.

    None of my colleagues in tech hotbeds such as Silicon Valley, LA or NYC waste their time.
    So making a site that is easy for everyone to use is a waste of time?

    Most tech savvy people have the wherewithal and the ability to adjust to view a 960px layout without having a cow and moving on to another site.
    So you only design sites that will be used by patient tech-savvy people? I wish I had that luxury. Most of the sites that I have developed have been aimed at ordinary members of the public, who by and large are not particularly tech-savvy.

    EVERYONE, novice to expert that has taken part in our user testing programs adjusted their browser to view the entire width of the page. Whether the container was full screen or not.
    It sounds like your user sample is somewhat biased. I have on numerous occasions seen people (and not people who are completely stupid, these are people who work with computers all day long) confounded by sites that are too wide for their screens. In many cases, they don't even know that they're missing anything, they just get frustrated when they can't find what they're looking for, and assume it isn't there.

    The key is having the right content on your site that will engage your customers and pull them in. If they find something that interests them on your site, re-sizing a window a few pixels will not deter them.
    And what if they can't resize their window because it's already maximised? Do you expect them to change their screen resolution to accommodate your website? Get real. First, no-one is going to go to that much trouble to look at a website, not when there are other sites that offer the same service/content but don't make them jump through hoops to get to it. Second, as I said before, half the time they won't even realise that there are bits missing off the right-hand side.

    And I keep hearing all these UK and Aussie people on hear saying you HAVE to do it this way or that way or its wrong.
    Maybe that's because these countries have some sense of social justice, rather than the "I'm alright Jack and who cares about the proles" attitude that some other countries seem to exhibit. Accessibility and usability are fairly well-developed sciences these days, and they unanimously say that invoking horizontal scrollbars is a Bad Thing™. Sure, if you care more about your pretty design than about the needs of people using your site, go ahead and break the guidelines, that's a choice that you have.

    What everyone across the ENTIRE PLANET needs to understand is what works for you in your neck of the woods doesn't necessarily mean that it is relevant somewhere else.
    Oooh, coming from a USAlien, that's pretty harsh. Not to say damned hypocritical.

    The web is global. Yes, the majority of people who look at my sites are based in the UK, and usually pretty local to this area, but I've had visitors from all over the world. If you know exactly who is going to be using your site and what their setups are, maybe you don't need to bother with a flexible approach, but those of us who want to make all visitors welcome do.

    I've been developing sites with this formula for the last 3 years and have not had ONE complaint from any of my clients or their customers.
    How often have you complained to a designer about a site that you were trying to use as a customer? The majority of people will just give up, go away and try somewhere else. They aren't going to waste their time pointing out your mistakes to you, why should they bother?

    Most clients asking for websites are pretty clueless about good web design. They don't usually know about usability and accessibility - that's why they hire supposed professionals, people who know about all that stuff. Of course they aren't going to complain, they don't know it's wrong, and they don't know that they're losing customers as a result.

    Do you really surf through top and sub level pages of a web site with a sidebar open? I may initially but you either have to resize your window or close the sidebar to view it effectively.
    I don't, but I know people who have a Google sidebar permanently open, and get totally thrown if I suggest they resize or close it.

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    SitePoint Evangelist Karpie's Avatar
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    Some designers I know have started pushing out designs that have a min-width of about 1300px. God help us.

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    SitePoint Wizard donboe's Avatar
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    First off all I agree with Stevie D that you should not forget people with a 800x600 resolution but to build a site that fits into a normal browser setup on an 800px wide screen goes a bit to far in my opinion. I normally use a width between 920 and 980px and I find that respectable alternative.

    It's still reasonably in 1024x768 px and even in 800x600 px I just have a very small horizontal scroll. And in higher resolutions (1152 and up) It doesn't change into a needle in a haystack.

    But in a small point I have to agree with AtSea webdesign. It also depends who your visitors are. I wouldn't go as far as to say that this goes up for a area or entire country but If you’re making a gaming site, the decision to make higher resolution website is way easier to make.

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    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Speaking alike Tommy as someone who cares for the end-user (in terms of accessibility and usability), proclaiming that no-one designs for a specific resolution anymore is nothing short of hogwash. And proclaiming that those who do are wasting their time is among the most grossly unfathomable statements I've read in ages. If you believe that because your "pressure study" which required everyone to stretch their window constitutes a good and successful usability test makes it justifiable to inflict that kind of behaviour on the less fortunate of users, you've missed the point entirely. Proclaiming that the issue is geographical rather than being a more widespread and fundamental issue of accessibility and usability is blatant denial on your behalf, there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that immediate accessibility and usability issues relating to horizontal scrolling in anyway relate to cross-cultural or geographical location, I'm not going to moan about the painstaking research experts (in usability) have done but needless to say that your revision explaining your previous actions has two fundamental flaws at it's principle core.

    Firstly you use the age old argument of "you can't please everybody", which is detracting from the point that bad usability and accessibility remains bad, it has nothing to-do with pleasing people but a more fundamental issue in relation to how you are damaging user-experience and simply using a straw-man argument to try and cover your tracks in respect to make it OK to fail your audience, just as long as most people can use what you've produced (which if you're going down that road, you perhaps may as well make your entire site in Flash). And the second and final issue is that you used the idea of "personal preference" to illustrate your actions as some sort of justification, which in my experience anyone who believes that subjective "ideals" of what works and what hasn't obviously has suffered serious bias and integrity issues into the usability testing they have undertaken which are undermining the idea of making your website work for the widest possible audience.

    While your statement about using analytics to aid your insight into your users was correct, you seem to have failed to account for the problems of analytics software (in respect to their accuracy and competency), the reels of research that exists to support Tommy's points (which you seem to have not accounted for) and a number of assumptions based on those who were used for the study, how they reacted and the results this showed. Sorry to say it but from what you've stated, it's a case of poor research leading to bad judgements based on information which is at best untrustworthy and at worse misleading which will only hurt your visitors.


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