The Best Dimensions for a Website
One of our most popular articles is "What is the Optimal Width for a Website?". This led me to think about the other dimensions of a website as these are equally important and often misunderstood.
The size of your website is measured in pixels, not millimetres or inches
This is the first important fact which you need to grasp when thinking about the dimensions of your web page. Computer screens come in many sizes, even more so now that we have netbooks and web enabled smartphones. It is instinctive to think about the size of your web page in terms of the screen that you use and it is therefore tempting to think about the measurements in direct relation tot he computer screen that you normally see.
For example, you might ask your web designer to make the font slightly smaller in order to fit more information on the screen without the need to scroll down. The designer's reaction might be that this would not be recommended because whilst you can read the text quite clearly on your screen, it might not be as readable to someone with a screen of a more intense resolution.
For example, text on a 19 inch screen of 1680 pixel width will look much smaller than text on a 23 inch screen also 1680 pixels wide. However, another 23 inch screen which is 1920 pixels wid will look pretty similar to the 10 inch screen referred to earlier. So here we have two 23 inch screens on which the text looks completely different.
Don't worry about scrolling down
Another objective of people who do not fully understand this concept is to ask the web designer to ensure that a certain amount of information is viewable on the screen at the same time. They may go even further and say that they do not want the user to have to scroll down to read the web page. This is not a practical objective. People wih Netbooks have very little horizontal space on their small screens whereas people with very large monitors will have plenty of space. The truth is that scrolling down a web page is perfectly natural for most people. That is why most mice have a scrolling wheel, to make this task so much easier.
You may be delighted when you persuade your designer to squash everything to the top so that you can see everything at once on your screen, only to be disappointed to see that your friend has to scroll down because they have a lower resolution screen. It is a battle you can never win. TIme spent in making the website look great and to have useful and relevant content is time much more worthwhile spent.
Also bear in mind that those people with lower resolution screens will be much more accustomed than you in scrolling down to read a web page. They will already be used to it.
The Technical Bits
When you go into the control panel to create your own website with AB Publish, you will find that there are four options for the width of your screen. Here is how they break down:
- Very Narrow - This is 600 pixels wide and is suitable for all screens. This is unusually narrow and only recommended on the rare occasions where the design requires it. This is so narrow that it looks quite unusual.
- Narrow - This is 750 pixels wide and will look quite similar to very narrow but not quite so extreme.
- Wide - This is the default width. It is 980 pixels wide and is designed to look good on the vast majority of screen sizes. Nearly all websites are this width or thereabouts as they will fit onto a 1024 pixels wide screen which is the minimum screen size foe most netbooks. If you are not sure, we recommend you use this width.
- Full width - This makes use of the full width of a screen irrespective of resolution. The advantage is that it fills out even those with very wide screens. The slight disadvantage is that your site layout will look different on different screens as a different amount of text will wrap at different points. All the other resolutions will wrap at the same point on all screens
You should be worried to a certain extent about the dimensions of your web page but once this is established and you accept the fact that it looks different on various types of screen, this will leave you time to concentrate on more important things like clear easy navigation and great content.
Tue 31 May 2011 10:12:05