In the the day of wide screen football, HDTV, 16:9, 1080i and 720p, why hasn’t the web lived up to it’s end of the bargain? Many, many, many websites still have a static width of 800 pixels or so. That means, to those of us with wide screens or larger resolutions, that there is a narrow, vertical strip of content and most of the web page is blank. Even those of us with smaller screens and square monitors get the margins and wasted space on the left and right.

Take a look a Yahoo and then have a look at how I see it.

Example of wasted space

 

See those HUGE margins. There are 690 pixels of margin and about 945 of content. Think of the widgets or data that could be shown in that 690 pixels of empty space.

Yahoo isn’t the only one. In fact most websites have gone this route. CNNESPNMSNBC are all examples of popular sites that waste space in this manor.

 

 

So what causes this problem? Well to be honest, I don’t really know. But here are a few observations that I have made.

  • It’s so popular that people have come to expect it. My clients ask for it from time to time, stating that its what users expect to see.
  • Old or out dated sites. A lot of websites are years old and date back to before there were wide screens. This will take several years to get caught up.
  • Less with more. Some sites use it as a tool to make their site “look” like it has more content. Unfortunately it’s kind of like using double spacing or a bigger font. It might scroll more, but there’s not actually any more content.
  • Web Designers like it because it’s easy. Now I’m not talking about real web designers, I’m talking about graphic artists that have crossed over into the web world. The web is not Photoshop, but a lot of designers like to make it as close to it as possible.

So whats the fix? Well basically,  time. Several big sites have started using dynamic formats that expand out to fill your whole screen. More and more people are getting annoyed by the wasted screen space. In time, this combination will force web site owners to revisit their layouts and pick a more wide screen friendly arrangement. Other then that there’s not much to do. I recommend that everyone request their developer or designer use a wide screen friendly layout. Web pages should expand or contract to fit the current users monitor. After all, you have to support 800×600, 1680×1050, everything between and beyond.

Some examples of sites that have it right.

My personal step: To help advance the web as a whole, I have redone my site to get rid of the static width. That was just a free template any way. I went ahead and put in the work to get my site into a dynamic format. It’s still a work in progress (for example the logo is being re-done now.), but I like the overall idea.

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