Web Design for the Masses

By on 07/6/2010

What does web design for the masses mean?  Well, to me it means web design that is user friendly and compatible for the biggest majority of users.  And when I use the term ‘biggest majority of users’, I mean 99% of users.  I am asked many times by clients why we lay out our web architecture the way we do.  I would like to take a minute and explain why.

1. Browser Display Resolution and Site Width

One of the most common questions is why a website does not span the entire screen, or looks different on different browsers.  How much of the site shows, and how much background shows on the screen is not entirely a result of the screen size.  It is a result of the screen resolution.  Below are the latest statistics on screen resolution.

Browser Resolution Statics

As you can see, screen resolution has drastically increased year to year.  The key here is the 1024 x 768 screen resolution.  This is a big percentage, currently at 20%.  You can not overlook this population, and therefore should keep your site width at 1000px wide.  This will fill the screen on this 20% of users computers.  We  are also looking at 76% of users with a resolution larger than 1024 x 768.  This means a site designed at 1000px wide will fit on 96% of users screens.  The 1% of users on the smaller 800px resolution are used to seeing sites with scroll bars at the bottom, so that should not be a big concern.

2.  Cross Browser Design

The next question I hear a lot is will my site work cross browser.  The answer being yes is an absolute necessity.  An interesting statistic that you might not be aware of is that Internet Explorer is not the popular browser.  Firefox is the browser of choice for nearly half of internet users.  This is a pleasant surprise as Safari and Firefox are the more advanced browsers and conform to W3 standards.  Another pleasant surprise is that IE6, one of the worst browsers in my opinion, is being rapidly phased out.

Browser Usage Statistics

These are 2 of the most popular questions I am asked during the web design process we take clients through.  There are many statistics and web standards to consider when developing a website, and one size doesn’t always fit all.  My best advise for the masses, stick to the statistics.  If you design a site 1200px wide to ‘fill the screen’, you will loose a lot of traffic because of a bottom scroll bar on smaller screen resolutions.  Another important comment, never try and trick the system.  People set their preferences for a reason, they prefer larger text or they prefer to see more on a single screen.  Design for the masses and contribute to the users experience.

Do you have any interesting or helpful statistics?  If so, please leave a comment and share.

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