One of the most vexing aspects of web design is knowing that your page is at the mercy of the software and hardware configuration of each individual user. A page that looks great on your machine may look radically different, or perhaps even ghastly, when viewed on another user’s set-up. This is partly due to the browser’s functionality (as discussed in Chapter 1) and the individual user’s preferences (font size, colors, etc.), but the display device itself also plays a large part in the success of the page’s design.
This chapter looks at the ways in which design decisions are influenced by the wide range of displays and viewing conditions. For the majority of your audience, the variation in display is a function of the monitor’s size (or, more accurately, its resolution) and color capabilities. However, it is important to keep in mind that the diversity does not end there. Some users may be watching your web page on TV. Still others may be viewing it in the palm of their hand on a PDA (personal digital assistant) or cell phone. Sight-impaired users may be listening to your page, not viewing it.
Browser windows can be resized to any dimension, limited only by the maximum size of the monitor. Designing for an unknown amount of browser real estate is a challenge unique to web design and one that is particularly troublesome for designers who are accustomed to the printed page.
In discussion ...