I’m talking about screen resolutions people!
Today widescreen monitors are becoming more the norm than the exception. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything other than a widescreen monitor at your local Best Buy store.
In addition, laptops are also increasing their display sizes — that new MacBook has a display that is bigger than my first TV!
You might also recall that in 2003 the New York Times reported that laptops now outsell desktop computers: “Laptops accounted for more than 54 percent of the nearly $500 million in [US] retail computer sales.” This trend continues today. And we know that laptops have always used higher screen resolutions than desktop computers.
So I think we can safely say that widescreen displays and thus higher screen-resolutions will only continue to grow in popularity.
So are we, as developers, taking this into account when we build websites?
When I look around the web my thought is no, we aren’t!
I use a screen-resolution of 1280×1024 at work — this creates a lot of unused or empty space on many, if not most, websites. The higher the screen-resolution, the more empty space. Let’s look at some popular websites at the 1280×1024 screen resolution and notice all the empty space:
No, I’m not trying to insinuate that Search-This is somehow better than these other websites because we have zero unused space. Rather, I’m just showing the difference between a website that has been designed with a fluid or liquid design in comparison to that of a fixed design. In a fixed design you have a specific width and it does not change to accommodate the size of the monitor or screen-resolution. In contrast, a fluid (or sometimes called liquid) design will have a width that stretches to fill the screen.
It’s not to say that a fluid design is better than a fixed design, but with the increasing monitor sizes and screen-resolutions it’s certainly something to be aware of. This post was conceived while playing poker at a friend’s place. On his wall he mounted his 50″ HDTV, which also doubled as his monitor for his computer. So in between Texas Hold’em hands I would surf the web and it looked strangely weird to see almost the entire display wasted. I was very pleased to see the fluid display of Search-This fill the screen. It really was quite the contrast. I couldn’t help but think to myself as I surfed the web from his HDTV that in the future more and more people will probably be doing the same thing — surfing the web from their TVs during commercials. Yet most websites are not ready for that.
Below is a weeks worth of visitors to Search-This and their screen-resolutions. From it we can see that at least 70% percent of the visitors have a resolution higher than 1024×768. Search-This visitors are extremely geeky so they are probably not a good sample size, but what the geeks use today the mainstream uses tomorrow.