It was brought to my attention yesterday that my LunarStudio website was being cut-off at the top of one user’s browser. Of course, I’m always concerned whenever someone experiences issues and experience the feedback – it can mean a less pleasing end-user’s experience as well as a loss in business. However, there can also be a number of reason’s why something goes wrong or looks incorrect on an end-user’s end and not necessarily and fault of my own.
In this particular case, it was the simple fact that the user was viewing my website at less than 1024×768 resolution on his monitor. LunarStudio isn’t designed currently for viewing anything less than 1280×960. Some might call this a mistake or a bad judgment, but I can ensure you that it is intentional.
There used to be a point in time around 2000-2002 when I designed all of my websites to fit the 800×600 website standard which was the most frequently used resolution. It was general and safe practice for any web designer to do so. I also made sure that most of my images tried to conform to a 256-color palette. This was because most people were just becoming accustomed to using computers for home use, they were running on much slower connections, used older browsers, older operating systems, older (and much more expensive) monitors, their computing power was limited, and they were running slow graphics processors (if any at all.) Quite frankly, designing for those standards was very limiting as well as a royal pain in the ass.
Now that it’s 10 years later, computing technology has come a long ways – people are running on faster connections as well as faster computers. They generally have much larger and less expensive LCDs. Most of us have the latest browsers and operating systems.
With the current version of LunarStudio, I redesigned it with forward-thinking in mind versus a legacy mentality. I don’t have the time to think of the worst-case or even average viewing scenario and frankly really can’t be driven to care unless I’m getting paid to do so. The way I figure it is that if a person is having problems viewing my website, then there’s a chance that they are somewhat computer illiterate, and this might make a working situation tenuous at best – they’re simply trying to jump from an era of driving a horse and buggy to driving the latest Ferrari. I hope that this isn’t taken as being rude or condescending – I’m just merely stating that a user needs to get with the times or risk becoming a thing of the past.
That being said, here are some statistics which may be of interest:
Screen Resolution and Colors:
As of 2011, 85% of all users view websites at a resolution greater than 1024×768 and the rate keeps climbing.
As of 2011, 97% of all users have a color-depth of over 16 million colors.
I use a handy tool called browsercam (discontinued) when it comes to capturing how my website should look across browsers, resolutions, and operating systems.
Here are some links to how the LunarStudio website looks across various setups:
***Old site discontinued.***
This doesn’t include every variation. This just gives me a general idea as to how my website looks to that 15% of the population that I don’t really target.
I think the most frightening thing about the statistics listed above is that 36% of the population is still running on Windows XP followed by a 5.6% on Vista which just blows my mind. The majority use browsers generally dated one version back – seeing that browsers are routinely updated, I shouldn’t have to worry so much about people using older browsers to view my content. Beyond that, the clear majority run high enough resolutions and color-depths to support the current LunarStudio website.
Designing for the lowest common denominator when it comes to websites is a risk any designer or company takes. Frankly, I think if you’re planning on designing a website and you want it to be modern, it may not be worth maximizing revenue based solely on a target market that is outdated. If website design was my full-time job, I might consider that 15%, but for now, it’s not something I’m going to concern myself with.