[thelist] Screen Resolution, which to design for?

Pringle, Ron RPringle at aurora-il.org
Wed Jan 17 09:28:57 CST 2007

Barney wrote:

God, that's pretty tragic.

Increasingly I find web designers over-eager to preemptively compensate 
for those undocumented horrific demographics I call self-mutilators, 
users who deliberately limit the capabilities of their user agents 
(!important stylesheets etc).

These people are beyond my sympathy. Bit Nietzschian, I know, but I 
refuse to design websites for worms.

There is the option of using javascript to test for viewport size and 
switching layout stylesheets accordingly, as exemplified by Volkan's 
site www.sarmal.com - and of course, media="handheld"... Beyond this I 
design for minimum size 1024x768.

Let's be honest, something that looks good at the worst case scenario of 
640x480 and the infinitely more common 1280x1024 is incredibly rare and 
likely isn't very complex - and I can't live with myself designing 
something incredibly vertical, linear and over-extended - or far too 
stretched out - for 90% of the population to go "Well, this site looks 
like semi-digested offal, but at least the neanderthals can enjoy it too 
- it gets my sympathy vote".

If somebody has javascript turned off and a screen that is 800x600 and 
they visit a site I designed, I make no apology for the fact that they 
may need to scroll.



I can sympathize with that viewpoint, but the world I find myself living in here, where half the population in the city do not have broadband access, and the average screen resolution seems to be 800x600, is pretty limiting. Considering these same residents pay my salary, I feel obligated to deliver information in a form that is usable to as many of them as possible. (I did establish a baseline of 800x600 for the public site, so no catering to the 640x480 crowd within City Hall)

A significant portion of the population here hovers near or under the poverty line. Yes, they do often have internet access, but often do not have the latest, greatest equipment or access to anything other than dialup. That doesn't stop them from needing to know how to pay a parking fine or where City Hall is located, or any of the other information we serve up for them.

And then on the other end, I'm getting more and more people using handhelds and we are in the process of implementing free wi-fi for the entire city.

Its makes for a challenging design experience that's for sure.


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