Resolution Past by a Majority

News flash folks, the 800 x 600 setup will remain so long as the higher resolution remain difficult for some people to read. Sorry, but this is a reality not going anyplace.

Qualified member of an elite class that includes the eternally regifted fruitcake of Christmases past, the Star Wars movie franchise, and the fervent hopes of the diehard Cubs fan for a Series sweep, the 800×600 resolution is truly one of those Things That Will Not Die.

We presume a dismissive, somewhat disparaging persona for the user with yesterday’s browser: either very young, undeveloped in either manual dexterity or a sharpened sense of aesthetics, or, god forbid, over 45, eyesight failing, faltering in the doddering twilight of the wired lifespan. Conveniently, these two groups are usually of secondary importance–if at all–to the marketing folks targeting the high-profile general demographics.

Nevertheless, this user, who today represents barely 5 – 10% of all users (and dwindling all the time), maintains an extraordinary grip on website design even today. Our own website is currently optimized for 800×600, and I regularly design to these standards, often on projects that are likely to be of little interest to second-graders or their grandparents.

Of course, there’s a catch. Designing for 800×600 in a world of 1024×768 and beyond is still a good practice. Indeed, with screen monitors achieving larger and larger footprints, a good many users have accustomed themselves to multiple, partially minimized windows, as Jennifer Kyrnin’s ad hoc user research suggests. Also, widgets and navigation add-ons can subtract signficant real estate from even a fully maximized, higher-resolution browser. Finally, as several designers have observed, if a layout doesn’t work for 800×600, it probably won’t improve at double the resolution. Source: UXD

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