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Use liquid web page layouts and optimize for 1024x768

According to Jakob Nielsen, web pages should use a liquid layout that stretches to the user's current window size. He recommends that we optimize page layouts for 1024x768 pixels, which is currently the most widely used screen size, but that we make sure it works for any resolution from 800x600 to 1280 x1024.

Pages should also work at smaller and bigger sizes. But a less-than-great design is an acceptable compromise. Fewer than half a percent have screen resolutions of 640x480 and users with large screens rarely maximize their browser window.

A liquid design should scale all the way down to the tiny screens found on mobile devices. But mobile services should be designed specifically for use on small screens.


  • Screen Resolution and Page Layout Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 07, 2006

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Web page design (40) 



I'm not sure that Mr. Neilsen is focused on the right statistic here; I think browser window size (or, better, canvas size, being window size within borders and minus any toolbars that might be displayed) is the much more interesting variable.

I've noticed that as more of my Windows-using coworkers get larger screens, the likelihood that their browsers will be maximized is reduced. Anecdotally, this effect seems to be most pronounced among the most technologically savvy of the bunch, but as we slowly upgrade the equipment our people use it seems they are likely to have some apps maximized (spreadsheets, diagramming, Outlook) and some at reduced window sizes (most notably browsers and file system windows, plus "naturally small" apps such as music players).

Granted, this may or may not be true of your audience. But as screen sizes pass the 1280px-wide mark, the likelihood that a maximized browser window will represent the actual usage patterns of the audience is likely to fall. This implies that we should be collecting statistics on, and paying attention to, canvas size as a primary design constraint.

Jon Plummer | August 07, 2006


Jesper R

Henrik Olsen | August 29, 2006



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