ALAP's new more-important design
It’s been mentioned everywhere, but, in case you missed it, A List Apart just redesigned. A nice look. And completely arrogant.
Yes, they’ve decided that their site is so immensly important that I should close all my windows and hide my bookmarks pane and maximize my browser so I can bask in the glow of all 1024 pixels of their site.
Ugh. It’s 2005 and this is how one of the leading web development sites is treating their users? Granted, in the grand scheme of things, forcing me to change my preferred viewing habits isn’t the end of the world. But it is frustrating coming from such a well respected site–a site that normally talks about design in a much more web-centric mode mentioning such novel ideas as web standards, accessibility, and usability.
Hicksdesign commented on this very issue which then prompted at least 100 comments from other designers.
What is frustrating is that there is still a pervasive assumption that average generic web stats have anything to do with specific user preferences.
Let’s go over a few of these:
- If 90% of your site visitors hit your site with Internet Explorer, you should not assume that 90% of your site visitors PREFER Internet Explorer and decide not to support other browsers.
- If you can read 9pt type just fine on your monitor set to your resolution on your desk with your lighting while sitting in your chair, you should not assume that the rest of the world will also prefer 9pt type and designer your site so that it breaks if a person chooses any other default type size.
- If you could care less about blind people, you shouldn’t assume that understanding accessibility best practices’ only benefit is to allow a few blind folks to get to your web site.
- And, finally, average monitor resolutions have nothing to do with preferred browser viewport sizes
The last point is what I want to focus on for this post. I won’t go into a long rant about it, but will share the following points with you. Whenever you get to the point in your design process where you are deciding how large you want to make the layout of your web site, consider the following:
- Trends are showing that more desktop users are using larger resolution screens
- Trends are showing that more non-desktop users are also using smaller resolution screens:
- Cell Phones
- Compact Laptops
- Notepad Laptops (which use a portrait layout)
- As the size of a desktop screen’s resolution increases, a person is likely to have bigger application windows
- As the size of a desktop screen’s resolution increases, a person is likely to have many more, but smaller, individual application windows
- More room on screen means more room available for your web site’s layout.
- More room on screen means more room available for end-user’s own preferred information (bookmarks pane, IM windows, OSX widgets, etc.)
In the end, you may very well have a reason for making your web page layout huge, but just don’t rely on the faulty logic of ‘average monitor sizes are increasing’ as the justification.