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hey all you web developers....i have a question

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Gato Moteado Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:17 AM
Original message
hey all you web developers....i have a question
when you're developing a website, at what minimum browser size do you try to make everything fit? in other words, what is the smallest acceptable browser size used in a design to make all the important stuff on a web page appear "above the fold"?
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 01:00 AM
Response to Original message
1. That's a hard nut ...
Edited on Thu Nov-01-07 01:01 AM by RoyGBiv
Note: I'm not a "web developer" but maintain a website I've had since 1996 and am now doing some design and content work at my new job. So, I have some small bit of mostly philosophical input.

In part, it depends on your intended audience.

Brief story: When I was first building my website, everything was optimized for 1024x768 with 10pt type for text. And, this was back when few people had LCD's and a 15" CRT was pretty standard. I had a 17", and that resolution was comfortable to me. One of the early visitors to my site and I got into a discussion about the content, and he offered some design advice from "one of the old fogies" like him who'd probably visit it a lot. His advice was simply to think of how hard it is for someone with poor eyesight to read text at that font size. His screen res was 640x480 because anything more was uncomfortable to him. I took that advice to heart.

Now, things have changed a lot since then, and browsers can allow users to adjust sizes despite what you do, but that's one of the problems you face. No matter what res you use as standard, you're going to have visitors who bypass everything you do to optimize the pages or not visit at all if they can't. Take DU's main page, for example. Use the browser function that allows you to increase the font size to something visually impaired people might use, and very little is going to be "above the fold."

In the stuff I do, I generally think in terms of width and keep the absolutely essential stuff I want people to see immediately when they hit that page within that width and a relatively small height. Also consider that not everyone views websites with the browser maximized. In addition, some people have several 3rd party toolbars in their browser or have a tab bar all the time or surf with one browser that doesn't take up much real estate above the viewable area while others use one that has large buttons or fonts or whatever, all of this reducing the viewable height.

The width I do is 800 pixels. A good banner with a logo and/or a top-level menu bar can fit nicely in that and doesn't need much height, e.g. DU's pages. But, if I don't absolutely need the extra space, I optimize for 640 width. Note that I don't make it static to that width, rather allow it all to fit inside that if that's the size of the browser the viewer is using.

The user-friendly rule is to avoid as much as possible anything that *requires* a certain resolution. You can get away with requiring 800 pixels in length these days most of the time. Thinking in terms of the height of a page or what is "above the fold" is, imo, pretty much useless aside from some sort of "headline" style attention grabber.
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Gato Moteado Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 07:19 AM
Response to Reply #1
2.'s my real problem
the website i'm working on has two panes; one on the left and one on the right. there is a tab and some text above the panes and some text below the panes. in the right pane are up to 9 thumbnails of the products being sold and as the user mouses over each of the thumbnails, the large image of that thumbnail appears in the left pane.

the way it is now, the browser must be at least 1000x768 for the majority of the large image on the left to fit vertically in the browser. a little bit is cut off at the bottom but mostly just artistic effect like a reflection of the product. the user must scroll down to see the text at the bottom, though, there's nothing critical down there.

is this acceptable?

any smaller than 1000x768 and you can't see all the thumbnails and the bottom of the image in the left pane is truncated.

thanks for taking the time to help me out. it's much appreciated. and any additional feedback would be great.
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Realistically ...

The general standard (and I use that term reluctantly since determining this is not a science) res people use for the desktops is 1024x768. So, with a browser maximized, 1000 pixels in width is okay but, pardon the pun, stretching it. The scroll bar will cut off a small portion of this making 1000 pixels close to the maximum you can use. As a personal example of the potential problem, my monitor at work has a 1024 width maximum resolution, and I run across pages that don't present well in that because they seem as though the developer tried to optimize them for 1024 width and missed it just slightly. I tend to avoid them because they cut off just a dozen or so pixels on the right and either make navigation more trying, cut off bits that I don't notice directly but seem to make the page appear as though something is missing, or just generally look sloppy.

In your situation, it's kind of a marketing decision. You can't make everyone happy, but you need to maximize your exposure. Is the demographic of people who have small monitors, eyesight issues, etc. one that is being specifically targeted for these products or, viewed another way, would turning off these viewers by what they see as a sloppy page hurt the bottom line? People don't mind scrolling up/down but tend to refuse scrolling left/right to see what's on a page.

Just as something to consider, would a javascript applet that "explodes" the thumbnail into a larger picture be possible? Could you have clicking on the thumbnail open a popup or new window?

I don't want to suggest a complete redesign and, keeping with the "realistically" subject, the 1000 pixels won't be a huge problem for probably the majority of people if you are certain the page displays properly on a standard 1024x768 configuration with the browser maximized, but it is still worth considering depending on the target audience.

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FormerDittoHead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
4. 800x600 - lots of people still use it...
I USED design for 480x600 AND SMALLER! (for "WebTV" folks), but I had to break out of that!

Many people have their resolution set to 800x600 because they like things "bigger"... (I know, you can change font sizes, etc). In fact, I was at a client's *just last week* that asked me to change it from 1024 to 800...

If you're writing a blog for uber-geeks, I'd say 1024, but for general consumption, I would heartily recommend allowing the design to accommodate the lower-rez people...

Also, remember there are a lot of people out there who have "devices" for browsing the web. My Wii for example, can browse the web, (which I do) and while it allows for 1024 and lets me zoom in, an 800 website is nicer looking out of the box for that device...
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CK_John Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
5. Think small 320x240, the future is mobile phones. Companies are now spending millions to downsize
pages to fit mobile. One solution has been break pages up into each function, instead of the "see all at once model".
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. You really need to accommodate both.
The problems are very similar to those of sites that support multiple languages. The best way to accomplish it is to use a database driven site that accommodates a wide variety of viewing options, and it is better to accomplish this sooner rather than later, before the site becomes unmanageably knotted and tangled.

Text only options are also attractive for users who are browsing your pages using text-to-speech software or very extreme enlargement of the sort where only a few letters fill the entire screen.
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Gato Moteado Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-02-07 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
7. thank you everyone, for the info
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