Want mass appeal? Stick to 800×600

I was doing some work today on a redesign. Before I started putting pixel to canvas I decided to take a look at the competition to see if designing for 800×600 or 1024×760 was the norm. To my surprise 19 out of the top 20 sites in the sector were fixed width and designed for 800×600!

This surprised me, and got me thinking. I know from spending far too much time in Google Analytics that 800×600 is dying. I regularly see figures below 10% in all niches for 800×600. So why keep designing for 800×600?

I think one reason some big name sites are still opting for 800×600 is that they want to make sure that everyone on the site gets a good experience. It might just be 10%, but 10% is still a sizable enough chunk to matter, especially on high traffic websites. Another big reason for supporting 800×600 is that may people do not browse in maximized windows.

Most computers now ship with monitors supporting a native resolution of 1024×768 (or bigger) and so the number of 800×600 users is going to decrease. With in increasing numbers of widescreen monitors now coming as standard with many PCs the variation in screen resolution is set to continue. So what’s the answer? In my opinion it’s safe to design for 1024×769 of you have a tech-savvy audience. Want mass appeal and to appeal to silver surfers and those on old hardware with CRT monitors? Then my advice is to stick to 800×600.