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.