When It Comes To Your Website’s Screen Resolution, Play it Safe

It may come as a surprise, but if you’re planning a website redesign in the near future, bear in mind the screen resolution you’re being promised may be some way off fitting your website on screen. After some research on partner websites we discovered that a surprising number did not actually fit the most common screen resolution.

While many sites are built for 1024×768, the actual safe viewable area is often much smaller when one considers the browser and op
SafeArea-image-1erating system being used. The safe area takes into account screen real estate used by operating system elements (Vista’s widgets, Apple’s dock) and the browser itself (address bar, search field, buttons, scroll bars, etc).  Some rule of thumb safe areas:

BrowserSafe Area
Mac OS X: Safari909 x 519
Mac OS X: Firefox909 x 507
Windows Vista: IE849 x 621
Windows Vista: Firefox849 x 608
Windows XP: IE998 x 615
Windows XP: Firefox998 x 622
Safe area for all browsers849 x 507

Source: Designer’s Toolbox

Our partner site has very little Mac traffic so if one removes Mac safe areas from that list, one is left with a total safe area of 849×608 due to the widgets in Vista – and, yes, though it may be hard to believe, the site gets 13.63% of its traffic from Vista users so it is something to consider when you start to think about your next website redesign.

So why does this matter? It matters because it can hit you in your most important web statistic – conversion rates. What if you design a squeeze page (landing pages created to solicit opt-in email addresses from prospective subscribers) and the giant glowing red button the poor sap, ahem, “prospective subscriber” is supposed to click on is nowhere to be seen?  You may have thought it was visible, but alas it is off screen because it sits outside the safe area.

Sadly this was the case with our partner site.  In figure 2, the call-to-action button is below the bottom of the form in the right-hand column.  It is unlikely a user will click on the button if they can’t even see it.


The solution?  Always keep your calls-to-action within the safe area where they will grab the most attention.


Who knows, your conversion rates may skyrocket, getting you noticed by the VP of Sales who promotes you and gives you a raise and unlimited use of the corporate jet and twice as much holiday time and women love you and men respect you and babies hardly ever throw up on you – all because you played it safe.

– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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