Is it Time to Abandon 800×600?

Yesterday, May 15th 2006, Yahoo! Inc. released a link in their blog to a preview page of their new layout which perhaps may set the standard in pushing away from developing for 800×600 resolution. It will not fit without horizontal scrollbars at 800×600 resolution, but fits the screen nice and neatly with just a small padding around the edges in 1024×768. Frankly, I’m suprised to see them make the move to a fixed-width, non-fluid template.

The new left navigation menu is also very cutting edge “web 2.0″. While still sorted in alphabetical order, it utilizes web 2.0-style “tags” in which the more popular items are in a larger font.

Will this release finally give the last push to totally abandon 800×600? I don’t know if i’m quite ready for that yet. I for one know that both my parents in their early 50′s use 800×600 on their 17″ CRT, and they have a hard time seeing that sometimes, so I cannot imagine them moving to 1024×768. Perhaps, this will become the leading accesibility issue, perhaps it will have no effect. But I for one still believe in making sites fluid, or at the very least, not so wide as too force a horizontal scroll bar.


EDIT: 5/17/2006, 14:36 GMT -5

I think it is fitting that after nearly 20,000 views and 1500+ Digg’s to this page, that i include the real-time image of the resolution stats visiting this page. While only 2% as of this writing are on 800×600, the results are skewed as us techies are more apt to have better equipment.

Pie Chart for Resolutions

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20 Responses to Is it Time to Abandon 800×600?

  1. jasonk823 says:

    There is an option called ‘Page Options’ underneath the Web Search button. This lets you toggle back and forth between the ‘wide layout’ and ‘narrow layout’ versions of the homepage.

    I agree with you though. I don’t think it’s time to move away from 800×600 just yet. Yahoo! should at least make the ‘narrow layout’ the default.

  2. Long says:

    that is a stupid move by yahoo. I much prefer Google’s sole search field.
    as to answer the question of whether people will stop using 800×600, the answer is no because nobody knows how to change their resolution let alone know that they can change it.
    The travel agency I work for has been in business for twenty years. Using computers is something they do everyday and many of have no clue about screen resolution.
    Monitor makers have become smarter over the last few years with the drivers which set the optimal resolution on the screen for the user.

    Anyways, there aren’t many savvy computer users. By that I mean users who do more than just email, write texts and view photos.

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  4. Digger Smith says:

    1. visit the preview again.
    2. Click “Page Options” [upper right].
    3. Click “Switch to narrow”.
    4. ????
    5. PROFIT!

    [translated: there's an 800x600 version, and as far as I know, it might even DETECT your resolution and pick the correct page size.]

  5. NYTransit says:

    It is time to leave 800×600 in the past… I only hope Yahoo! gives it the burial it deserves.

    The biggest issue with PCs these days is the need for backward compatibility. We see it in the Vista development (supporting old drivers, etc) and we see it here with support for the 800×600 which is like 10 yrs old….

    Why are people ok with buying a new car every few years, but they have a problem buying new PCs? People buy new TVs, buy DVD players when VHS is going away, why do we in the software/IT/computer world feel the need to support everyone under the sun?

    And Yahoo isn’t saying you can’t use their site if you have an old 15″ monitor, just that you will have to deal with the hassle of leftright scrolling….

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  7. waxpancake says:

    The new homepage detects your resolution and displays the narrow layout by default if you’re less than 1024×768. It’d be crazy for a company with as mainstream an audience as Yahoo to abandon their significant base of 800×600 users.

  8. coda says:

    Interestingly I blogged this too last month, after CNN and New York Times launched their 1024×768 redesigns: Is 800×600 already the worst-case scenario?.

    In summary:

    Without proper research and usability testing it’s near impossible to know the surfing habits and screen configuration of your users. So as hardware advances, and users slowly adjust to using larger screen resolutions and wider viewports, and as designers continue to push this envelope, I continue to believe that a liquid layout of sorts is the safest way to accommodate everyone.

    It seems we all agree!

  9. Thats interesting.
    My parents use 800×600 too. And they used to use 640×480 until I made them switch.
    I dont see 1024 becoming the new standard, but I can hope.

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  11. swn5363 says:

    Check out the display stats here: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
    I think these are as accurate as you’ll find, given their large cross-section of resources.

    Only 20% @ 800×600 as of Jan 2006 and decreasing at a rate of 5% every 6 months. That means in 2 years (or so), virtually no one will have 800×600 resolutions.

    Why?

    Mainly because of the rapid decline in cost of LCD displays, which provide default resolutions set higher than 800×600. Larger monitors are less expensive and more people are buying them. As a result, the average screen resolution is increasing pretty quickly.

    Should we continue to design for 800×600? I can see it both ways. You never really want to make your site hard to use (ie, horizontal scroll bars) for 20% of your visitors, but at the same time, it’s important to push forward with advances in technology. It’s the same argument web designers had for years on whether to design with consideration to older browsers (Netscape 4.x, anyone?).

    So what is the answer?

    Liquid sites seem to be a good answer, and are the answer for many websites. But with websites that have tons of content that need high priority, designing a liquid website that has optimal usability across all resolutions is nearly impossible.

    Take Yahoo for example. Tons of content, all high priority, and you know they are paying top dollar for graphic designers, usability experts and interface designers. Instead of a liquid website, they chose to offer it in 2 sizes. Why didn’t they just make it liquid? It’s more difficult than most people realize when you’re dealing with that much content.

    With liquid websites, you lose a certain amount of control over where items appear on your web page. Sure, you know the general location, but the user’s resolution and window size can cause navigation to wrap or break, related items to end up too far apart, cause important items to fall below the pagefold or any other number of problems.

    Make no mistake, I can promise the placement of every single item on Yahoo’s new homepage was given much consideration and probably caused months of arguing and tweaking. With a website like Yahoo, where a slight dip in traffic to certain sections can cost them tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, you’d rather have total control of what the website looks like to the user.

    Thus, it makes more sense (at least to me) to release 2 sizes rather than have a liquid website. Pretty smart move when you consider they automatically detect your screen resolution and serve you the correct layout. Now, they’re not giving up any usability at all for the 80% just to service the 20%. They’re actually taking care of both screen sizes to the best of their design ability.

    Just my 2 cents!

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  14. rYno says:

    Funny enough – I caught your post title off of The Web Design Blog and I wanted to throw in my post on my blog which has similar questions that you propose in your title.

    rYnoweb: Fixed Width Sites; Have the rules changed?

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  16. neilp says:

    whilst most users would benefit from more than 800×600 there are an increasing number of PDA type browsers which are just starting to move UP to 800×600 pixels, surely they can just detect what size people are browsing at, and default to 800×600 ?

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  20. Read this post now is like it was the writing on the wall! You were dead on target.

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