View Full Version : Choosing Screen Resolution

8th May 2005, 03:14 AM
Could someone tell me how to find out what is the most popular screen resolution size please. My average customer is middle aged. What resolution does the average middle aged person prefer? I might have my site optimized for the wrong resolution but I don't want to change anything without researching first. Any ideas please? :confused:

8th May 2005, 07:55 AM
Is the site of concern the Tin Ceiling Panel Site in your sig?

If so, your fonts are too small. Forget about screen resolution. People will leave that set at factory almost always so you need to make your site readable to all. The idea is to make your site look good at the most common resolutions from 800X600 to 1280X1024 and still be readable at 640X480 though I think at this point in time those with that resolution are used to some amount of vertical scroll.

You are using an 8px font-size for your paragraph text. That is way too small for most readers. Many "web-designers" use such small fonts but many designers who are designing for readability and accessibility are steering clear of micro fonts. I would suggest that you should have a minimum body font size of 10 or 11px for all content to be read. You can use slightly smaller fonts for footers etc. if you want but why make any thing harder to read. Ideally for your main group of middle aged visitors I would suggest that you select a font size that is equivalent to no less than 0.9em. On my computer that is equal to about a 12px font.

Another issue is your link colour on the left handed menu bar, the contrast is low and the colour of the links on the background green are not as easy to read as they could be. I would suggest either using a lighter background colour or a more contrasting colour for the link colour.

I know this is not the specific answer to the question posed but I feel that it will be more helpful to your aim which is to make the site the best it can be for the bulk of your prospects.

Best of luck.



8th May 2005, 09:54 AM
Thanks a lot Jay. I never realized for one moment that the font was too small. I see it on my screen and it is fine and I never thought any further about it. I take on board the other issue about the menu too. Thankyou for your help. Any other advice about my site will be welcome too. I've got a lot to learn in this area. Cheers.

8th May 2005, 12:20 PM
Statistics and opinions for screen resolutions vary all over the place. Many of the sites that collect this data are techie sites, and the numbers tend to be skewed toward higher resolutions.

Windows operating systems, including Windows XP, use 800 x 600 as the default installation resolution. Most casual users do not know how to change the resolution, so my preference is to develop pages that are 760 pixels wide (the right side scroll bar is 40 pixels wide).

You could always use a fluid design using percentages, rather than pixels, but they can sometimes get pretty stretched out at high resolutions.

The last thing you want to do is to develop for high resolutions using fixed widths. This forces users to scroll right. Every time I run into a site that someone developed at 1280 x 1024, I kiss it goodbye with the Back button.

8th May 2005, 08:01 PM
Thanks TechEvangelist. Much appreciated. :abovehead

8th May 2005, 09:07 PM

Techevangelist is quite correct in the recommendations about 760px for fixed width or using fluid designs.

Fluid can be tricky since the maxwidth attribute in CSS is not supported by IE. One can assume though that many people with large resolution monitors over 1280X1024 are using windowed browsers and since many sites don't exceed 800px wide they can have the half of their monitor free to do other things.

If you have any questions about changing your link colours, just let me know.



9th May 2005, 12:40 AM
Jay I'd like to take up your offer about helping regarding my link colours. Somebody helped me set up this latest version of my site - some things I understand and some things I don't.

I use Frontpage and when I look at my menu, ( ) in design mode I see all the links in cream coloured text with no underscoring. That is how I wanted it to be. When I look in preview mode half of the links are as I want them and the other half are purple in colour and they are underscored. I don't know why they are different and I don't know where this purple link colour has come from. I can't see any place to change it from purple. And if I change it what should I change it too? Do you think the creamy yellow colour is not substantial enough for a link colour? I chose it purely because it is the background colour of my other pages. Your advice would certainly be appreciated.

10th May 2005, 01:46 AM
I agree about the fluid design and Jay's comments are all spot-on

one more thing to consider is what happens when you click on a hyperlink from an email or another site. On my computer the browser window that opens isn't maximised - which means it isn't any normal size - and a user will still expect your site to look good!


10th May 2005, 05:24 AM
Thanks Sarah. What do I do to rectify this please?

10th May 2005, 09:03 PM

I have looked at the code for your site and for the Cascading Style Sheet for your site and there is an issue to be addressed with it prior to making it work so that the links can be different colours in the margin. It is that you will need to create an 'id' to associate with content in the margin bar. If you don't address this first, you will cause all the links to be your beige colour and they won't be readable in the body section.

Do you have a basic understanding of HTML and are you able to do any hand coding of HTML files? Part of the problem these days is that because of Cascading Style Sheets it is easier to code by hand and preview in a browser. I don't want to send you into a headspin. If you truly want a hand I can help you along but it will take some time.

This is not to slight you in any way but I discourage anyone even the bare novice from using Frontpage as it writes deprecated code if not messy code and the user doesn't learn good code.

Writing HTML is not hard (it may seem so, but it isn't), it is writing good HTML that works that is the tricky bit. Cascading Style Sheets have made website editing even more logical. You write logical documents and then you style them with CSS. In addition to being able to change the look of your site with the editing of one file, you are able to make sites viewable on a number of different media such as a printer formatted page with all the background colours removed and printer friendly fonts.

PM me when you have some time to look at this.

Best regards,


26th May 2005, 07:01 PM
I agree with the excellent tips given so far. Particularly important are the comments about font size and color. I'll usually use "em" sizing in my stylesheets instead of "px" or the traditional "pt". "em" is relative to the screen resolution, similar to "%".

I stick exclusively to an 800x600 maximum screen resolution for all of my sites. I do this even though I personally prefer something around 1024x768 or higher.

The reason for 800x600 is that it still has the largest base of users, worldwide (see this page ( In addition, it provides consistent print output (@96px/inch=8.3 inches wide), and sticking to the one resolution lets me cut back on development time as I don't need to reproduce a lot of screen resolutions and then tweak the site for them (think word-wrapping, balance of text and graphics "above the fold", etc.).

I'll never forget my first "professional" site that looked fantastic on my (then) 640x480 screen only to look like a crazy site on the client's new 800x600 screen. And if it's one visitor you should care about how the site looks to, it's the client!

Keep your designs controllable, and this won't happen to you (much)!

BTW: A simple trick for guaranteeing 800x600 (or any measurement) is to build the page in a "master table" with the width set (I use 780px), and then in each footer, before you close the "master table", drop in a 1x780 transparent .GIF to fix the width at no-less-than 780px. This will keep the design from "scrunching" in a lower-resolution screen. True, a horizontal scrollbar will appear on the lower-resolution screens, but your design accomodates that, right? ;)

31st May 2005, 06:30 PM
The general concensus is to design for the lowest common denominator, and these days that means designing for a monitor resolution of 800 pixels.

But, I don't do that 'cause I design for both popular resolutions (800 px & 1024 px) and I let the user's setting dictate the page they'll see.

With a web site fully compliant with stylesheet layout it's possible to design for more than one screen resolution. In fact, if there was a justifiable reason I could have a web site adapt to any number of different resolutions.

And the best thing is that there is only one page to edit for the whole site (plus a tiny javascript). If javascript is disabled the default 800 px (actually 780 px) will load. Font sizes and column widths are adjusted according to the stylesheet that loads.

I realize that this is not a viable solution for anyone that isn't familiar with HTML and stylesheets, but should you want some cool info on the subject you could check this out

31st May 2005, 07:31 PM
With a web site fully compliant with stylesheet layout it's possible to design for more than one screen resolution.

Welcome to the forum Oldstyle! :standingw

Excellent advice... I really need to get a better handle on CSS so I can implement this.

2nd June 2005, 03:51 PM
Oldstyle (seconding the Welcome!):

How is the print output at 1024? Has that ever come up?

3rd June 2005, 03:53 AM
Oldstyle (seconding the Welcome!):

How is the print output at 1024? Has that ever come up?

I've never tried to print any pages in either resolution, but I believe they will print fine, or at least as good as any printing is of web pages. The problem with printing web pages is that the view above the fold is a landscape format and the paper setting is usually that of portrait.

The web pages are controlled by the stylesheet that loads and in either case they are valid W3C compliant pages, so they will behave as any full screen browser page should behave.

For anyone curious enough to see how it works just load a page from and then change your monitor resolution. Refresh the page and see it adjust to fit the screen.

Stylefast Web Design & Consulting (

Put Your Creativity to Work

3rd June 2005, 05:23 PM
That's nifty stuff, OldStyle.

Quick note: Your smoothly-sliding menu (nice) fits great at 800x600 but only partially covers the "Best viewed ..." instructions at higher resolutions, which looks a bit odd. At 800x600, you never really get a chance to read those instructions because either the menu covers them up or you scroll past them ...

(psst: You should definitely print it out at both resolutions ... just to see it ;) Doing so from MSIE6 has a result you'd be interested in seeing.)

15th June 2005, 11:54 AM
That's nifty stuff, OldStyle.

Quick note: Your smoothly-sliding menu (nice) fits great at 800x600

(psst: You should definitely print it out at both resolutions ...)

Thanks for taking the time to fool around with the site's appearance and then passing your comments along.

I'm not going to make any adjustments to the site, other than that I have already removed the floating menu because it was more of a pain than an asset in viewing the site.

The web contents will be totally changed soon, and probably the design also, and so I don't want to put any effort in fixing what's there right now.

I am nearly finished writing an e-book on small business web design called
"Small Business Web Design X-Ray Vision" and when it's complete I'll be turning my focus toward a better web design to market the e-book.

I will keep your comments about printing in mind when the new site design is completed, and I thank you for that info.