What Screen Size Should Be Used When Creating Websites?

Most of us have been told to write copy for 7th graders because that’s the average age at which most people read.  At least that’s what “they” say.  Who “they” are is a mystery to me, but “they” get a lot of credit for some pretty basic stuff.

I never liked this idea simply because advertising isn’t supposed to appeal to everyone.  Are “they” going to call me out?  I’ll take my chances.

If an ad is targeted at Wall Street Journal readers, why should we communicate with 7th grade readers who are almost certainly not reading that publication?  I’d rather talk intelligently to an intelligent audience, and I believe the audience would agree.

So when we get into a discussion with web designers about the size of the screen for a new site, and they insist that it be 800 x 600 because that’s the lowest common denominator, I cringe.  Why should a site talk to everyone — especially those who aren’t familiar enough with websites to have a larger screen?  Sure, if my site and advertising are talking to people who use a modem, I shouldn’t bog it down with graphics that will take hours to load.  But if I can create a powerful site by using more screen, and my market is identified as one that works well with computers, why limit my creatives?

So to end the debate quickly, I refer to this site that shows the size of browser displays since 2000.  This chart shows that in January, 2009, 93% of web users set their displays at either 1024 x 768 or higher.  Just 4% have their displays set at 800 x 600.

Case closed, right?  Wrong.  Some web people can’t get past the fact that some people won’t see the full site no matter how small the number, and they will practically insist that we design our sites smaller for everyone to see easily.

This is wrong, so don’t buy into it.  If you notice the trend on the site, you’ll see people are moving faster and faster toward larger screens.  So don’t buy into the one (small) size fits all mentalilty.  Instead, subscribe to the “we create the best site we can” and watch how people will react.


  1. August 21, 2009

    I can completely relate to this article from the perspective of what to set for the 3000+ computers where I work. The debates are interesting to say the least.
    Dave Broucek

    3,000 computers? I cringe when we have a problem, but there are only about 30 or so in our office so it’s not that often. Plus, we have macs, so there are even less problems (knock on wood). I cannot imagine the number of requests you must get for software and website access. That in itself is a full time job.

  2. Mandy
    August 31, 2009

    I agree with you. It seems silly to be catering to only 4% of the population. It is bothersome when clients think this is necessary because back in 2003 when only 6% of the population was using a screen size that was higher then 1024×768, no one was trying to cater to these people. So wouldn’t you think the argument would be the same for the 4% of people that seem to be somewhat behind the times now?