I’m working today on designs for the next http://www.lps.org and this morning trying to establish a target width. To get started, I’m examining some of the best sites on the web to see what width they are using. Here’s what I’m finding.
* ESPN, MLB, NFL: 990px
* New York Times: 973px
* ABC News: 770px
* ABC: 803px
* Cnet (including drop-shadow): 990px
* Washington Times: 980px
* Apple: 781px
* UNL (including drop-shadow): 1000px
* NBC: 971px
* CBS: 977px
So that’s what we’re seeing on the web. How does that match up against the traffic we see at Lincoln Public Schools? Here’s our visitor resolution breakdown (timeframe is 8/1/06 – 1/29/07), provided by Google Analytics:
I’m kind of depressed to see this chart. In my dreams most people are at 1280×1024 but we see it coming in here at 5%. Even if we lump all of the 1280ish and larger resolutions, we come to 20%. So, in general 65% of our traffic is at 1024 x 768 with the remaining 35% being split about 2/3 larger and 1/3 smaller.
A piece of information that I haven’t provided yet is the current size of the site, which is 897 pixels. This means that for the past couple of years, I have already been in excess of what a 800 x 600 screen can display. I am going to work on the assumption that as we improve computers in the district that this number will continue to fall. I think that a site can establish some visual credibility simply by exhibiting traits of sites that have credibility. If many solid sites work at 990 pixels, simply using that width can piggyback on their success subliminally.
So I think that’s where I’m going. I’m going to shoot for 990 pixels. For those that can not display this width, it is only 100 pixels larger than what I was doing before. For others, I think that it will be a forward-looking design that will provide room for a lot of flexibility in content delivery.