educational

Target Your Site Design

Stephen Yagielowicz

Professional website designers require an understanding of current computer display and user environments, including the type of browsers and operating systems in use.

According to W3Schools.com, previous standard display resolutions such as 640x480 and 800x600 have been completely replaced by higher resolution screens, with even the once dominant 1024x768 display now accounting for less than 14 percent of online users — while even higher resolutions make up the bulk of modern desktop display sizes; such as the most popular screen size, 1280x1024, used by around 15 percent of the audience.

Global averages may not always be relevant to your website, different sites attract different audiences.

As for color depth, W3Schools.com reveals that 97 percent of computer systems have 24- or 32-bit capabilities, with the balance comprised of 16-bit legacy or mobile screens — which is great news for graphic artists wanting color-rich palettes for their designs.

Operating systems are one area that is in flux, with Microsoft claiming that Windows XP systems have finally dipped below 50 percent of the market. W3Schools.com shows that of its visitors, however, just fewer than 40 percent arrive via Windows XP. Vista is listed at 6.7 percent; Windows 7 at 37.8 percent; while older Windows versions account for less than one percent, as do mobile devices. Linux has 5.2 percent, Mac, 8.1 percent.

Browsing software is always an important consideration for designers seeking the highest levels of compatibility and the best looking design possible. Currently, this means catering to the 42.2 percent of Firefox users, the 27.9 percent using Google’s Chrome, the 23.2 percent on Internet Explorer, the 3.7 percent using Safari and Opera’s 2.4 percent.

It is important to remember that one website’s visitor profile may not be the same as another website’s, providing an important consideration when comparing your site’s own figures to these stats; or as they say, statistics are often misleading and developers should not rely upon them.

“Global averages may not always be relevant to your website,” states the W3Schools website. “Different sites attract different audiences. Some websites attract professional developers using professional hardware, while other sites attract hobbyists using old low spec computers.”

Your own user base may vary, depending on your specific market and traffic sources. The most important action item is to be aware of a client site’s actual user profile and to accommodate those findings into your designs — using this global data as a fallback that indicates the web surfing capabilities of the Internet community at large.

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