Not all PC monitors are like yours

You know how important it is for your website to be legible on tiny smartphone screens, but what about small desktop screens? Do you know how much of your website traffic is looking at your site on old-school monitors, with perhaps just 1024 pixels from one side to another? Are they missing anything? Many websites were signed off by marketing managers with nice big PC screens and built in the first place by graphic designers with even bigger ones. Many of your prospects may not have that luxury.

Let’s start by using Google Analytics to see our visitors’ screen resolutions. It’s found under Audience > Technology > Browser & OS, then select “Screen Resolution”. Choose a decent time interval, like the last year. Sort by sessions to get the major screen resolutions, or set a filter to only show resolutions getting a certain number of sessions, and sort by resolution. You could also add “Operating System” as a secondary dimension to see the devices providing those resolutions.

You should see something like this:

Screen Resolutions Report in Google Analytics

If you don’t have access to Google Analytics, the report above comes from a typical engineering company, so your figures may not differ wildly.

Old-fashioned 1024-width screens might only account for a small percentage of visitors, but the absolute number that represents is still quite a lot of potential business. Your site might “collapse” in approved responsive fashion for tablets and smartphones, but it probably doesn’t change for low-resolution PC screens.

You can test this out using a neat tool called Screenfly (below), which simulates the site in varying screen widths. Click on the device icons at the top to choose different sizes.

Screen Preview Tool

What you’re looking for is this: has the small screen size cut off your at-a-glance main message? You’ll see above that on the small 1024 x 600 netbook screen simulated above, the BMON site just gets away with it.

Take a look too at the very largest screens. Does your site float in the middle at a reasonable size? It should do, but occasionally I see sites which stretch improbably to fit the full width of any size screen. Their owners are often horrified to see the results.

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