1200 Pixels

Twelve Hundred Pixels - The New Size in Websites

by KV5R • © 2012 • Rev. 9/10/12

Are you sick of seeing 760 and 980-pixel sites on your 1920×1080 display? Well, I am! They look like a little ribbon of tiny clutter down the middle (or worse, the far left) of the screen.

Many webmasters still do this because they fear some users are still running low-resolution screens—and 12 years ago designing for the Windows default 800-pixel screen was appropriate, but now it has become just another web tradition with no merit.

According to w3schools survey, the number of browsers now reporting 800 resolution is down to 1 percent, and even 1024 has dropped to 13 percent. That means over 86 percent are running 1280 or higher. Most new laptops are now 1366 and, thanks to the interest in HD videos on computers, most new monitors are 1920.

I switched from designing sites for 800 in 2007 when the percentage of 800-pixel users dropped below 15 percent. Now (2012), the percentage of 1024-pixel users has dropped to 14 percent, and it’s time to start designing for the 1280 and higher monitors.

I built the WordPress theme for this site from the Twenty Eleven theme, and one of the many changes I made was bumping the max-width up from 1000 to 1200. This leaves room for a little background, scroll-bar, and window borders on a 1280 display, and it still looks great on a 1920 display (I’m running both here).

“But what about all those little phones and tablets?” We’ve got that covered! Thanks to new capabilities in CSS-3, there′s a new layout called “responsive” that allows web designers to make sites that re-format their layouts, and even shrink images, when it detects the user is using a phone or tablet display. Shrink your browser down real small on this site, and you’ll get the idea.

Web-Safe is Now Web Stupid

I wrote about the so-called web-safe colors and web-safe fonts a few years ago. I can hardly believe my eyes when I still see web “gurus” promoting them.

Web Safe Colors

This nonsense started about fifteen years ago when a lot of people were still using 256-color displays, and then it became a religion. W3Schools reports that 0% are now using 256 colors, and under 2% are still using 65,536 colors. Over 98% are now using 16.777-million-color displays. I wonder what percentage of web devs are still using only 256 colors?

Web Safe Fonts

This one is really wacky. The “safe” list includes things like Helvetica, which is now installed on 100% of Macs but less than 7% of all Windows machines. Thus, it is a Mac font, yet it is probably the most often one seen first in css font stacks. Why? Tradition! Fortunately, CSS-3 provides the mechanism for browsers to use web-based fonts, so we can start thinking about abandoning the whole idea of users’ installed fonts.

For better font choices, see my New Font Family article, in which I built better (modern) font stacks based on researching the stats at CodeStyle.org.

Coding for Internet Explorer

Speaking of browsers, Firefox passed Internet Explorer in January of 2009 — and get this! — Google Chrome passed Firefox in March of 2012! IE’s share has dropped to 16%! Finally—after web devs spent millions of hours and billions of dollars writing hacks into their code so that web pages would work in both IE and the standards-compliant browsers. And only with the recent version 9 has IE finally started following standards.

I wonder how many more years web coders will keep up the tradition of including IE hacks, in fear of some imagined percentage of users (clients?) still running IE6?

Coding for W3C′s Little Detour

Perhaps the most powerful mojo in the web-dev religion is the Holy XHTML. A few years ago, it was the way to go, and quickly became synonymous with semantic markup and the table-hating Cult of Div. But then, the Consortium turned its attention to HTML-5 and sort of abandoned XHTML, even stating that putting compliant HTML in an XML wrapper served no useful purpose. Furthermore, nearly all public web servers ignore the XML wrapper and serve XHTML as plain HTML text.

Yet we still see a development community pushing XHTML and all that <br /> crapola, even as they move to HTML-5, which doesn′t require a slash on self-closing tags. They wouldn′t be caught dead writing a web page without the deprecated XHTML doctype and DTD declaration, yet they are now peppering their code with HTML-5′s bevvy of new tags, the same degree that they were wrapping everything in hundreds of nested DIVs last year, and hundreds of nested tables before that.

As for me, I′ll just keep on hand-coding (well, except for this blog), and the only thing I′ll do different is use the HTML-5 doctype and learn a few new tags.

Bypassing the fads and traditions sure is fun!

—KV5R

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