Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The User Trend Away From 800x600

From time to time, we are asked to give recommendations regarding the target screen size for an online or interactive project. Over the years, several Cloudjammer creative professionals have researched this issue. But in the last year or so the canon 800x600 pixel design specification has come under more serious criticism.

According to W3Schools.com, a developer’s resource, as of January 2007, 80% of computers use a screen size of 1024x768 pixels or larger while only 14% use 800x600 or smaller (in fact, since 2005 the next smallest size, 640x480 pixels, has been used by an inconsequential percentage of user). Certainly, 14% is not an insignificant percentage but the studies’ margin of error (6%) could raise the larger resolution’s market share as high a 86%.

Perhaps a better indicator of user habits, though, is the dramatic trend away from 800x600 toward larger screen resolutions over the last five years (see figure at right). If trends continue, 800x600 may soon be relegated to the same negligible status as 640x480 (itself, once the design standard, for those of use who remember web design in the late 90's).

Does this mean that web- and interactive designers should target the 1024x768 dimensions a the new standard? Of course, the answer depends on the intended audience. Ideally an interactive design should expand and condense gracefully, suiting both large- and small-format users equally well. But for most applications, especially the business-to-business and consumer-facing projects in major metropolitan areas with a broadband high market-saturation, designs that target the larger screen proportions are appropriate. What's more, these larger designs may be better suited to service interactive customers in the future, as 800x600-limited users become a smaller and smaller minority.

1 comment:

Jay Kapp said...

Good info JD. Recently I've been moving, causiously, to wider pages. Thanks for the good data.