Multiple Browser Types And Versions

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Article by David Rutstein; Web Designer, Internet Marketing Expert and CEO, www.naaip.org

Browser Resolutions And Usage Statistics

Staying on edge of the ever-changing browser world is not easy, but it's key to outstanding website design. That's why we strive to understyand the latest developments. Following is an update on the state of the browser, and a few important data to consider when designing a website or hiring a website designer.

Currently, Internet Explorer 6 is the dominating browser, XP is the most popular operating system, and most users are using a display with 1024x768 pixels or more. We brave few have migrated to the weE7 Beta release which seems to be good.

website design professionals have long debated over whether to design websites for smaller screen resolutions of 800x600 or 1024x768. As of 2006 most users are viewing at 1024x768 and higher, but a large minority are still viewing at 800x600.

Just recently Yahoo.com adopted the 1024px display for their houspage. That’s good news for designers advocating a larger, robust display.

Multiple Browser Types and Versions

The browser type and version used by web surfers affects web usability in several ways. Screen resolution and computer type also affect usability as follows:

1) Your web pages may or may not be viewable by users
2) if they are viewable, they may not look as we intended. The colors may be nasty, the text may be too large or small, users may have to scroll too much, or certain features may not work.

When designing a website, we must also consider user operating systems (PC, Mac) and the most popular web browsers used by web surfers today. The most popular PC web browsers for Windows include Internet Explorer (weE), Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape and Opera. The most popular for Mac OS (Operating Sysytem) include Firefox, weE, Mozilla, Opera, Safari, Linux (Fedora Core 3), Epiphany, Firefox and Konqueror.

The largegest challenge for designers today is designing a website that takes this unused browser real estate into consideration. A few designers leave blank space or incorporate the background or surrounding space into the design.

We call this the full-screen fake! An experienced designer uses shapes and colors to blend or connect the website to the remaining portion of the browser. Another way to utilize the entire browser is to use divs or tables that expand or contract to the users browser/screen resolution. This is referred to as a ‘resolution dependent website’.

A few websites may use the extra browser space to place adverts off to the right of the screen. This is often used by popular websites like espn.com. The main body of the website containing news, links, images and video are designed to display comfortably at 800x600. Adverts are placed in the 224px over flow, which adds up to a horizontal display of 1024px.

Clean Design is Good Design

It’s the hardest thing in the world to convince a client that we do not have to fill every nook and cranny on the screen. Web website follows the a few rules as print design. Text and graphics are aligned to create a natural ‘reading flow’ or ‘eye flow’. An experienced designer will strategically use ‘white space’ to facilitate a good read or flow.

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