Is it time to move beyond 960?
~ 23 April 2009 ~
The new Typographica.org, which uses a width of 1040.
Lately I’ve been questioning if it isn’t time to move beyond 960 for websites, and if so, what the ideal width may be.
Those of you frequenting this site for a few years may recall a similar quandary, “Optimal width for 1024px resolution?”. In it, I proposed 960 as the ideal width for moving beyond 800x600:
I’ve been using 960 for some time now, as it’s slightly smaller than full width, and it’s divisible by 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 16 (imagine the grid possibilities).
Since then it seems 960 has nearly become the de facto standard for fixed-width designs on the web. A number of Photoshop, browser, and OS plug-ins default to it. There’s even an entire CSS framework built on 960. (I should note 984 has also seen considerable usage, most notably Apple.com.)
Admittedly, I’ve not yet settled on an ideal width for 1280ish, and I’m working on only one site at the moment to inform my thinking about the topic. But I think we’re at the point where it’s time to talk amongst ourselves.
Before the flak begins flying from fixed-width naysayers, I remind you that I’m a huge fan of fluid designs with
max-width limits, as evidenced by my Extensible CSS series and case study design for CSS Mastery. But I believe there will always be a need for fixed width, and frankly in many ways it’s more practical than fluid width.
So what’s the ideal width? I’m not sure yet. Let’s figure it out together. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
- 1020 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15 but not 8 and 16. It’s not much wider than 960.
- 1040 is divisible by 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 16 but not 3, 12, or 15. Yet it has a reasonable width that sits somewhere between the lower end of 960 and higher end of users browsing full screen (many don’t, of course).
- 1080, which is what I’m taking for a spin with a site right now, is divisible 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15 but not 16. It pushes the upper end of the width spectrum, and measure (line length) could become an issue if not dealt with appropriately.
Of course, there’s probably a slew of other numbers between 960 and 1080 divisible by many of the widths listed above, so speak your mind about widths, measure, pros, cons, etc.
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