Is 1024 OK?

With all the hoo-hah over the launch of the new ALA, I read with interest the interview with Jason Santa Maria over at Malarkeys place. What strikes me about this redesign is that it has been so focussed on typography. Jason has spent a long time on the details, as well as the overall, and by god it shows.

Now, I’m going to have to be careful here, because Jason is a friend, but there was one thing in the interview that just didn’t sit right with me:

We don’t support 800 × 600 anymore, nor do we 640 × 480. Do you? People flipped when sites stopped supporting 640 × 480… now no one says a word. Things change. Trust me, you are going to see more sites stretching out their legs and putting their feet up.

As a designer (coming from a print design background) I’m with Jason. I would LOVE to think ‘to hell with 800×600’, and get that bigger canvas to work on. However, I also know that not everyone maximizes their window. They may have 1024, or much higher, but thats not to say that they don’t keep their browser windows at only 800px wide. For the record I have mine in a widescreen letterboxy format- full width, but leaving room so that I can see my Stattoo dock. Thats what its all about – everyone has their own preference.

What about future proofing? The ideal that’s touted when using web standards. Its always amusing to come across a site from the 90’s that was rigidly designed for 640×480. This tiny site sits up in the top left corner of the screen, with a large repeating background image (surely no ones going to see that?!) throughout the rest of the window. A fluid layout would mean that sites that we build have more chance of fitting the screens of tomorrow.

Now, I’m one of those people who’s gone for a ‘fixed 760px horizontally centred’ boring layout thats so common these days, but I’m Increasingly of the opinion that fluid – or at least fluid up to a point, is the way to go. I’ve been working on a fluid redesign for a while now – I just wish I had time to finish it!

This isn’t a post about fluid vs fixed though. Nor is it criticising Jason or anyone who decides to design for larger resolutions. Its about a dilemma I have – designer sensibilities vs user preference. Some may not see the two in opposition, and a lot of times they aren’t. However, I’d love to say ta-ta to 800×600, but a little nagging voice is telling me it isn’t that straightforward. Believe me, I’m not so far up my web-standards-arse that I wouldn’t just put up one big gif image for the page if I thought no one was looking.

Maybe I need to lighten up and not worry quite so much about pissing off ‘users’? ;o)

The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of the creative partnership Hicksdesign. Take a look at the work we do.

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