Sometime last year, we started designing sites to a 1024 screen resolution. Based on feedback from clients that they wanted more real estate for their content, and usage reports that showed users having a minimum 1024 x 768 screen resolution, we decided to change our default practice. Today, we design to 1024 unless circumstances warrant otherwise.
According to data from the w3schools, 86% of users use computers with screen sizes of 1024 x 768 pixels or higher as of January 2008. All new laptops and monitors ship with at least 1024 resolution, usually higher, so this statistics does not surprise. My new Sony VAIO laptop shipped with 1280 x 800 resolution.
But remember that even though screen resolutions have gone up, printed pages have remained the same. So we design all of our new sites to have a print style sheet where the printable content is no wider than 665 pixels. And if a client wants their site to be PDA-friendly, we add a mobile style sheet where the resolution is typically set to 240 x 320.
There’s lots of discussion around the office about whether or not we should design to a higher resolution. On the one hand, it’s likely that screen resolutions are only going to go up. On the other hand, we notice that users with high resolution monitors tend not to maximize their browsers, but rather have multiple, overlapping windows open at once. So for now, we’ll stick with 1024.