Network: Web Design - A resolution to the worst of nightmares

Learn limitations, push it to the limit, but always keep an eye on the visitors

THERE IS one nightmare that will wake website designers wake up in a cold sweat screaming for their mothers. It's not browser incompatibility or browser safe colours, these issues are tricky but they have a certain reliability in their inconsistencies. No. The nightmare of which I speak is the dreaded screen resolution.

The problem is that there is no way of knowing what screen resolution (and what size display) the design will be viewed on. Too big, and lower resolutions will miss parts of it. Too small, and you waste valuable screen space. Learn the limitations of screen resolution, push them to the limit, but keep an eye on your audience.

What's it all about?

The "size" of screen is not so much limited by the physical dimensions of the display area but by the resolution at which that screen can display. Think of your screen as a grid made of tiny dots, called pixels. The more the screen can display, the higher the resolution.

But a monitor's resolution is not set in stone. Most can display at a variety of different resolutions, allowing the user to set it for their reading comfort. The physical dimension of the screen may be 15 inches but it might be able to display 640x480 or 800x600 pixels. A 21-inch monitor could also display 640x480 or 800x600 pixels but on a bigger monitor everything will look larger than with the same resolution on the smaller monitor. The higher the resolution, the more pixels get packed into the physical space accessible on screen so the larger monitor has more space and the size of each pixel is larger.

The resolutions that a computer screen can display depends on the type of monitor and the graphics capabilities.

Live screen space

For most web designers, height is not as vital as width. It's good to get the important information "above the fold" (the visible area of the screen when the page first loads), but vertical scrolling is okay but horizontal scrolling is taboo. Before beginning any web design decide which screen resolution the web page should fit comfortably (640x480 is the lowest common denominator and would ensure the widest audience). So, 640 pixels is the maximum width of the screen at that resolution, but this does not include the space taken up by the operating system and the browser window itself. The area you can use to display your site in the browser window is "the live space".

The Statistics

The visitor to your site can control the dimensions by resizing the browser window any way they want (unless you use JavaScript to force a width and/ or height). However, they are limited by the screen resolution which their monitor is set to.

StatMarket has been monitoring websites around the world and collecting data on screen resolutions (www.statmarket.com). It found just 13 per cent on 640x480, 54 per cent on 800x600 and 26 per cent on 1024x768. Seven per cent is either higher resolution monitors or lower resolution monitors, including PDAs and mobile phones.

StatMarket says that its data is based on a virtually random sampling of more than 32.5 million website users worldwide. Not only is 640x480 only a small part of the market, StatMarket says it has fallen almost 30 per cent in the past year, a downward trend that is likely to continue.

The writer is the author of `DHTML For the World Wide Web'. If you have questions, you can find an archive of this column at www.webbedenvironments .com or send e-mails to: jason@webbedenvironments.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future