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Does size matter?

No, this isn’t a post involving a dirty subject, Darren has had all of us guest bloggers sign in blood that we will behave ourselves here at Problogger, but it is a serious question. Does size matter in terms of blog layout.

There is any number of different theories on this one, but its something else to think about whether you are starting a new blog or overhauling an existing blog.

I did try to find some public stats in terms of screen size of viewers when putting together this post, but had no luck. What I do recall reading somewhere is that there are still a lot of people using Windows computers with a screen size set to 800×600.

If you’re not as old as me and weren’t around in the early days of the internet, when we use to run Windows 3.11 and connected at 14.4k (ok, it use to display at 640×480 or similar, I’m just obsessing again about turning 30 in September), right click on your desktop and change your settings to 800×600, then visit a few high profile blogs.

What you’ll find is large portions of some blogs flowing off the screen on the right hand side.

Sure, I can guess in advance that some readers will say “well, why should I bother about those people, they should update their systems”. Fair enough, but like yesterdays post on making sure that your blog works on different operating systems, failing to make sure you blog renders well at different sizes can result in lost viewers who may find it difficult, if not impossible to view your blog in an accessible fashion.

For myself, I take a strategy I call the “what my mother is looking at” strategy. My mother owns a 19 inch LCD monitor, and yet keeps Windows set at 800×600. Yes, the icons are huge, but she likes it this way, she tells me its “easier to read this way”, and no, she actually has a better PC setup than I do (latest P4 processor, 1gb ram etc..). If my mother was to view one of my blogs, would she be able to read it easily? The point I make that its not only people using old computers with small screens that use 800×600, other users do as well.

With the Weblog Empire standard templates I’ve kept the width to 780. Sure, it’s limiting and I’d like nothing more than to expand out to 900, 1000 or even more, but at the end of the day whether your reading a site like PVR Spot or even the Weblog Empire blog itself, I know exactly how it will present whether you are viewing it at 800×600 or a 1024x 768. There are of course, other ways to cater to this, including the use of percentages for content areas, but from experience I know that sometimes this can cause more problems in itself.

For some it may be too hard, but as Probloggers we are in the business of numbers, and excluding potential recurring visitors doesn’t make good business sense.

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Comments

  1. Vix says:

    I design for 800×600 though I think that 640×480 resolutions are a dying trend.

    The best way to make sure that your site renders well in various types of resolutions would be fluid design but like you say dealing with percentages with CSS sometimes is a headache.

    I know I’m guilty of using fixed width layouts (with absolute positioning).

  2. Smart Money says:

    Here’s the stats for the last 100 visitors to my site [this is a bit unusual, average is about 28% 800x600]:

    48 800×600
    40 1024×768
    9 1280×1024
    1 1152×864
    1 1600×1200
    1 unknown

    so if I was neglecting 800×600, I’d be losing a pretty large number.

  3. duncan says:

    amazing stats on the 800×600 Smart Money

  4. Ryan Latham says:

    It may just be the visitors I attract but only 3% of them are 800 x 600 wheras 82% of them are 1024×768. The rest would be resolutions such as 1280×1024, 1600×1200 and so on. I do not have a percentile for 640×4(get some glasses)80.

    I think this may be universal as some of my topics do varry quite a bit. Typically I design for 800×600 as a cutoff. 800×600 give you enough room to work, and whitespace doesn’t kill.

  5. Smart Money says:

    A friend told me he looked at my site on his computer at work and it looked like crap [it was 800x600]. My response was something like…”if they want to be so far behind the times with their monitor, it’s not my problem.”

    Then, since I’m supposed to be blogging about business, I realized this wasn’t the greatest attitude, I hooked up a better stats program…and I was shocked to see the %. I would have guessed less than 5%. Needless to say I fixed my site.

  6. eckes says:

    Here are mine on a geekish (Linux) Blog (eckes.org):

    1024×768 2734
    1280×1024 1419
    800×600 344
    1152×864 260
    1400×1050 231
    1600×1200 178
    1280×800 105
    1280×960 78
    1680×1050 38
    1344×840 32

    and the following on a IT-related german blog (itblog.eckenfels.net):

    1280×1024 273
    1024×768 244
    1400×1050 115
    1600×1200 62
    1152×864 33
    1280×800 17
    1680×1050 13
    800×600 11
    1280×854 9
    1920×1200 6

    the numbers are visits, with the following color depths:

    32 Bit 594
    24 Bit 111
    16 Bit 95
    8 Bit 2
    15 Bit 1

  7. Hi, i’d like to drop a few stats from my site (monthly average 65k unique visitors):

    1024×768 – 72,33%
    800×600 – 16,07%
    1280×1024 – 10,84%
    1600×1200 – 0,55%
    Other – 0,21%

    Since now 800×600 is a (minimal) web standard it is wise to design websites (if constand width) at maximum of 780px (800px – 20px for a standard scrollbar width).

    Cheers, have a nice day.

  8. Thank you for writing about this topic. I have a 19 inch monitor on my main PC and only a 14 inch on my laptop. It is absolutely frustrating as a user when I visit a site and have to scroll left to right to read the page. It wastes my time and effort — and gives me a headache! Often I’ll leave sooner than I would have…

  9. eckes says:

    Denise: which Resulution do you run on the 14inch Display? Personally I dont think that 800×600 is useable for anything (besides you wont even geht displays with that resulution). Bernd

  10. Vic says:

    You can always use fixed width’s for the one or two side columns and make the main column expandable. Design it for 780 wide, but that way visitors with higher res won’t get annoyed at only a small part of the screen being used.

    Vic

  11. TheCounter.com opens up (some of) the stats they collect for their users for public so you can get a bit of information on browsers and screen resolutions. According to their stats from last month about 56% of people using sites with their counter code on it are at 1024×768 (http://www.thecounter.com/stats/2005/May/res.php), with 28% still at 800×600. I personally still count that as a large enough number to keep everything under 770px still, but that could just be me.

  12. NightWriter says:

    For my current site, only about 15% use 800 x 600 resolution. With my new site, I have tried to work it so it views well in as many different resolutions as possible. Basically, you can resize the window and the bits will shuffle about to fit the size of the window. Everything works fine except for one block of adsense ads that just get partially hidden by the rest. I’m sure viewers will not mind not being able to see all of an advert, though for professionalism, I would prefer the adsense block to adjust itself along with the rest of it.

  13. Dale Estes says:

    Since I don’t get any traffic to my blog size doesn’t matter

Trackbacks

  1. [...] e to inform her and others who devote an entire rant to such trivialities of the following via this post: For myself, I take a strategy I call the “what my mother is loo [...]

  2. IT Blog says:

    Browser Wars

    Nach dem Relaunch unserer amerikanischen Website mit Typo3 haben wir praktischerweise Auswertungen der Besuche mit AWStats.

    Hier eine bersicht der Browser und Betriebsystem Kennungen (Auszug):

    MSIE……….85,8%
    - 6.0….81,3%
    - 5.5…..3,3%
    -