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Strategic analysis
Browser Sizes Revisited

Written by on November 15, 2008

In 2006 I published a report about browser sizes. The point of this report was primarily to visualize that it was not the size of the screen that matters, but the size of the browser window. Now, two years later, many things have changed.

The size of people's screens has changed a lot in the past years, but so has how people use the internet. If we look the screen size itself, almost everyone have high-res screens. On this site about 1% still browse using 800x600, and less than 20% use 1024x768. Almost everyone browse the internet using 1280x800 or above. That is a big change.

If we instead take a non-tech site, like a website from a clothing company, we see a slightly higher percentage of 1024x768 usage - at 30%, but 800x600 is still in the 1% range. 800x600 is long dead.

But as I also found in 2006, the size of people's screens doesn't correspond to the size of the browser. In 2006 I found that as the screens get bigger, the size of the browser stays pretty much the same - around 1300px in width.

What size should I design for?

The big question is; with this increase is screen resolution, what size should I design for? And that is actually a pretty simple thing to answer. You should design for a maximum width of 980px.

You see the internet has changed a lot over the past two years. It used to be just about the desktop browser. That was the only way people used the internet. Today that is no longer the case. Today people browse the internet using mobile phones, gaming consoles and embedded windows - apart from using the desktop browser.

If you are smart, you should design your site so that it can be used on every modern device.

And here is a trick. Every modern mobile browser has a default width of 980px. That is the width a web page is rendered in. Your site does not fit on a mobile browser (even when you zoom out), If you make your site larger than 980px.

So you need to make it less than 980px in order to design a page that works well on all modern devices - including mobile phones and desktop browsers. And, it turns out that 980px is also a very comfortable size to use in general.

Do the smart thing. Forget about the size of people's screens, design for a maximum width of 980px. Then your site will work (nearly) everywhere.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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