800 Pixels Of Comfort

I’m beginning to notice more sites pushing the 800x600 envelope. I thought I would welcome this movement like welcoming the death of IE Mac (http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/2005/03/driving_the_sta.php), however, I don’t.

Show of hands, who browses the web with your window full screen? I would guess the hands raise are 800x600 Windows users. Even on a Windows machine I don’t “maximize” and I certainly don’t don’t do it on my Mac. My guess is that a majority of people follow suit. (stats anyone?)

Why? People have other things going on. They’ve got instant messenger open, email running, calculator, mp3 player, finder, etc. If we design sites that fill the screen we are compromising that canvas of information. We force people to cover up their extraneous mess and focus on the foreground. In some cases full screen sites could be a way to force focus on a person, however, people don’t like to be cornered, they like flexibility, not intrusiveness. Lets face it while we may be in the Age of Information, we all have ADD. If your site can’t fit in a smaller window you probably have too much going on anyway and good luck competing with all that other stuff I mentioned earlier.

Flexibility is always a more positive direction from a people perspective. John Hicks and David Shea give their two cents on this topic at this years South by Southwest (http://2005.sxsw.com/video/movie_window.big.php?dir).