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Design Dump - Keeping You and Me in the Loop!
Todd Bertsch : Web Design: From Pixel-to-Pixel We Go

Web Design Has Changed

Part 3: From Pixel-to-Pixel We Go

By Todd Bertsch

Remember the painful days of 640x480?

Seems like light years ago that the web design standard interface was designed for such a small screen resolution. As technology progressed, then came new computers, with bigger and cheaper monitors that were defaulted to 800x600. Wow! This was exciting for web designers because we were gaining 160x120 pixels.

As technology continues to grow, web designers are gaining more and more pixels. As Dell. HP, and Apple crank out these cheap machines with better monitors, the faster growth we'll see with higher screen resolutions. The stats are there to prove it.

According to Jupiter web networks, screen resolution stats show the national average of Internet users browsing with an 800x600 screen resolution is down to a meek 25-30%. Down 50% from last year. This is a huge decrease. My guess is that by end of year we'll be designing for 1024x768 screen resolution. We'll watch and see when MSN, Yahoo!, and other mainstream web portals jump ship and start taking advantage of this larger screen resolution. The caveat, as always, is that you cannot rely solely on national stats. You must analyze your own sites' web logs to review what screen resolutions your consumers are using. If your site is a B to B or a specialty artsy site, your numbers could be very different based on this unique audience.

So pixel-by-pixel we are quickly gaining these little bits of color to add to our digital canvas. Which is great considering how far we've come.

Well…hold that pixel.

NOT so fast.

There's a new kid in town, and he's "mobile".

You know the day is coming when everyone will have one device that does everything. Like a mega mobile/phone/PC/Gaming/Ipod. So who will be designing this interface? Web/interface designers like us, of course.

The interesting parallel is that we go from gaining pixels on the desktop/laptop, to now losing hundreds of pixels to mobile devices. Try designing for a 320x320 TFT panel screen. Doesn't sound like much fun.

Now, 640x480 doesn't sound so bad after all!

An entirely new design medium is on its way. We will need to re-think how we design our websites. The time is coming when we'll be designing our websites for both large and very small screen/panel resolutions. This is going to be a tremendously challenging task.

Are you up for the challenge?

Will you evolve into a mobile interface designer? Interesting challenges we'll face are; iconic navigation elements, washed out colored screens, small screen panels and the way users will interact with these new devices.

2005 should be an interesting year for web/interface designers. We'll come back to this article in December and see where the pixels end up. •

© 2005 Todd Bertsch. All rights reserved.

Todd Bertsch received a Bachelors degree in Fine and Applied Arts, with a concentration in Graphic Design, from the University of Akron. More »

6/21/05