What resolution do you design RIA in?

I read an interesting post this morning on how the author wanted folks to consider the 800px resolution for their designs. He cites that although he has a large resolution, it doesn't mean that he's not also using other applications at the same time.

...But with 1900+ pixels, I keep half for the browser and half for other stuff. If you go with 1000+ pixels, it doesn't leave me with enough room for my other apps, and I've got to (ack!) scroll sideways. It's not as bad with the ball on the Mighty Mouse, but most people don't have one and it's not exactly effortless even with one... -  Sammy Larbi

It's an interesting point to debate, as whilst on one hand I do agree with him that the potential for your audience to overlay multiple smaller applications is there, yet at the same time the benefits of expanding your resolution to accommodate more on screen can also be in an asset.

Screen real estate is a hard subject to nail as even if you're the best information architect in the world, you will still annoy someone with your chosen path. The trick is to figure out you collateral damage, in that what percentage of your user base is going to disagree with your design.

The easiest way to work that out is to do some basic research, check the statistics of your existing site (assuming you had one already) then ask them but do so in a way that doesn't draw attention to your intent - as humans are funny at times, they do one thing but say another.


Q. Do you think Coke is good for your diet...
A. Yes, it's terrible...

The intent was it's terrible, bad, negative, stop!. Yet they will drink coke.

Here is a tip, we are habitual creatures and if you can compliment our patterns of habit, you're likely to become less annoying.

Take this blog for example. Below is a graph indicating my resolution stats for this blog.

image image

Would it be a good idea for me to go back to 800x600 resolution? If not what would you consider my ideal resolution.

Know your audiences technology limitations, know your customers habits and above all plot your approaches into a Risk Matrix.

Comments (3)
  1. Sammy Larbi says:

    Scott, thanks for bringing this out into a measurable situation.  Measurement is a good way to analyze results and predict reactions, and I’m glad you’re taking that next step.

    I have a question about the stats you’ve used though.  Do you know if it counts size of browser or full screen resolution?

    I ask because I think it’s odd if such a sizable minority (8%) are browsing with browsers maximized at 1900×1200.

    I can certainly see 1280, since there isn’t much else you can do with the space.  I even maxed out the browser at 1440 pixels.  Nowadays, on my 2nd monitor (at 1600) I’ll take probably ~11-1200 for browser and leave the rest for small apps like FTP and files folders, maybe a notepad open to scratch.txt.  (I’ll have IE open in one monitor and Firefox in the other, for cross browser testing purposes, or just convenience when I’m on a remote desktop).

    I agree with your assessment in looking at the data too- with marketing on the web as difficult as it is, all that real estate is valuable, and using it is quite tempting.  But, people like me aren’t going to see it.  My prediction is that my demographic will grow as monitor sizes increase (and decrease on average as more people move on to mobile devices).  

    I’m not sure how big we will grow, but I guess that’s what the stats help with.  =) (And with publishing as easy as it is, Rob Wilkerson on my own post pointed out, why change right now?)

    Do you have historical stats?  It might be worth checking the growth rate of the two demographics I mentioned.  I’m not sure what it would tell us for the bigger area screens though, unless those figures are reported with browser size in mind, but it might be fun to look.

  2. anonymous says:

    1152 x 864 to get a decent refresh rate on my CRT.

  3. Nick Katsivelos says:

    It isn’t just the X axis that you need to be concerned about – Y axis is very important too – consider the fact that some folks have browsers with tons of toolbars.

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