Changing screen resolutions 2011-2013

I can remember when 640×480 was a typical screen resolution. Desktop monitors have gotten a bit better since then, but just how much? Every few years I look at the breaks in common screen resolutions to see what I should be designing for when building desktop-oriented websites.

TL;DR: The 1024×768 displays are finally disappearing. The fall-off after 1280 horizontal pixels will be around for a while though.

Using Google Analytics data from GovTrack.us (which has a primarily desktop audience and probably is skewed a little toward older machines), I compared screen resolutions in April 2011 with screen resolutions from the last 30 days (~November 2013).

Each bar shows the percentage of users with at least the horizontal screen size on the right side of the bar. So the first bar goes up to 100% because almost everyone has at least 400 horizontal pixels. Only about 50% of users have a horizontal resolution of at least 1366.

No real surprise, but mobile is getting more popular, and that’s shown by the big 5-10% drop-off after about 450 horizontal pixels. All of the lost users in the 450-1024 pixel range are now using hand-held devices with less than about 450 horizontal pixels.

The 1024-divide is closing: In early 2011 there was a 20% drop-off after 1024 horizontal pixels. While 90% of users had at least 1024 pixels, only about 70% had a higher-resolution display. That drop-off has shrunk considerably, now at only a 10% drop (from 80% to 70%). Maybe we can finally start designing for 1280px!

And 1366px? The next big drop is between 1280 and 1366. Despite the shift to mobile, the resolutions starting at 1366px are gaining ground. That’s closing the 1280-1366 gap.  But not by much. It’s still about 20%: 70% of users today have resolutions at least 1280px, but only 48% have resolutions at 1366px or above.

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