What is a good maximum content area width for web pages?

What is a good maximum content area width for web pages?

Is there a standard max for the width of the main content area of a web page? I want to maximize screen real estate without affecting usability. I've seen a lot of sites stick to 980px or less. Anyone have any suggestions?

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I'm assuming you're referring to the wrapper width since you mentioned 980..
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The most ideal solution is to not think of pixels at all and instead rely on ems/%s and scaling, be as fluid as possible so your design fits on small mobile devices and your elements heights are not fixed but auto.

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Example being: http://www.456bereastreet.com/.
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But if you're stuck with web designers who still think pixel and you know for sure you'll be unable to get them to try making images that are liquid/fluid, I would say shoot for 960 pixels in width so you have enough viewing area in a 1024x768 with scrollbars in IE6/XP, but this really depends on your audience and the majority of your audience's screen resolutions..
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Target either the 800x600 or 1024x768 resolution.. For 800x600 it is around 750px.. For 1024x768 it would be 970px..


Research, such as that referenced here suggests that people have a more difficult time reading long lines of text.

That's why I restrict my content width to 800px or so..


You have to first ask the question.

Who is my audience?.


There's no "standard", especially in this age of PDAs/smartphones/netbooks/smartbooks/kiosks/etc...

- while it may sound cliche, the best thing is to design a fluid layout not depending on exact screen size.. The answer may change depending on your intended/anticipated user base, of course (e.g.

assume 1024 px screen width leaving you with 980 working px - and consciously decide that you are not interested in supporting anyone with smaller screen resolution).. Another solution is to allow size layout customization by making it into portal-like with user having control of layout of the portlets (ala My Yahoo)..


960 is a pretty common standard, and the rationale behind that figure is the fact that fitting on a 1024 pixel wide screen will allow a big majority of your users to see the content without scrolling.

See here for one of 100's of sites that give access to browser & user system capabilities statistics for some initial inspiration.

. But in the end, it'll up to you to understand the structure of your customer base - if your site targets iPhones, targetting 1024 pixel wide screens may not be your smartest decision..


Not sure about absolute pixel values, but one thing I'd make sure of is that the text columns don't get too wide.

There is a number of characters beyond which reading comprehension is impaired..


1000 pixels in width, is what I use which fits into the minimum 1024x768 resolution used these days without a horizontal scroller at the bottom of your browser .....

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