Understanding Monitor Resolution
If you go into 20 different peoples' homes, you'll find 20 different monitors with 20 different settings. Some people have their monitors set to show 800 x 600 pixels, meaning that the image below takes up the ENTIRE width of their monitor from left to right -
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This bar is 800 pixels wide
If your screen, right now, shows that red bar stretching fully from left to right, your monitor is set to 800 x 600 resolution. If your screen does NOT show that red bar stretching all the way to the right hand margin, then your monitor is set to a "higher resolution". You really need to understand this, and understand that most people have their monitors either set at 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768. If YOU have your monitor set at something higher, you may design your website thinking "everything fits nicely" - but when most people come to see your website, they will see gigantic images that do not fit well. It's wise to occasionally reset your monitor's settings to 800 x 600 and understand what the "rest of the world" sees when they visit your site.
To change your current display settings, go into Start - Control Panel - Display. Under the "Settings" tab, you will find your various resolution options. For example, here is the main lisashea website taking up a "full monitor" when set at 1280x1024. Note that I then resized the image to be only 600 pixels wide, so that even people with lower settings could see on one page a "representative" of the entire image. You need to imagine that this image below is taking up your entire screen. So a person who has their monitor set to 1280x1024 comes to my main site homepage and sees at a glance my name and photo, the description of the site, and the first photo with all of its main links. That is all "on the front page" for them.
In comparison, below is what a person running only 800 x 600 would see. When a person on a 800 x 600 monitor first came to my site, they wouldn't even see any of my photos. All they would see is the top photo and text. They would have to *scroll down* to get to any of my photos. This is critical to know when you design a website. You want that first page - the first impression your website gives - to be a good one. You don't want the user to get blank space or badly formatted text and have to scroll to find something interesting.
So again, design your site so that it looks good in ALL different resolutions. It can be tricky, but it can be done. Pay special attention to that "first display" that happens when someone visits your site. That initial view of the top of your page is critical. If someone dislikes that first glance, they might hit the BACK button and not even see anything else you've done.
The best way to understand this section is to go into your control panel and actually change your resolution. Change it to 800x600 and visit your favorite websites. Then change it to 1024x768 and visit them again. Get to understand how different users have different experiences on the exact same websites, all based on their monitor settings.
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