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I'm writing an application that requires a screen resolution of (height >= 1080), but my main question is, what screen resolutions should I expect on desktop computers so I know how to work with dynamic layout on another project.

Basically, what resolution (on desktops) should the cutoff be?

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Possible duplicate of ux.stackexchange.com/q/6929/7627 ? Lots of sites share these data sets about their own users but the important thing is you know the resolutions of your users. If you're making audio/video processing software your average screensize is probably going to be much than "typical" for instance –  Ben Brocka Jun 17 '12 at 13:51
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Does the application a desktop app, or is it a web application? I ask because web apps need to take into account browser viewport size, which is usually different to the screen resolution. –  dhmholley Jun 18 '12 at 9:28
    
Resolution is the wrong measure unless your application is guaranteed to run in full-screen mode. –  Monica Cellio Jun 18 '12 at 17:13
    
Ask your users. –  DA01 Jun 18 '12 at 18:39
    
@dhmholley it is a desktop app –  Cole Johnson Jun 18 '12 at 22:35
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you are building a web application, make the investment in a responsive layout. Having a responsive CSS site will help your site adapt as you more clearly understand what users are visiting your site.

With that said, I like to support resolutions up to 2560 x 1600. For websites I usually frame it in, with a big nice border around the two sides (margins), but still have to be aware that some are running resolutions that high.

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The cutoff resolution for your design should be one that is common and not too big; I don't see the problem with 1024x768 or even smaller unless your application is very minimalistic, and even then I wouldn't design beyond 1200x1024.

Always keep in mind that, at any given time, we can only read an area of about two inches in diameter (ie, the average distance between the centers of our eyes when looking straight ahead). For all intents and purposes, everything outside of this area is imperceivable. The reason for this trait is our evolution as top-tier, land-based predators: our central vision is very sharp (for locking and stalking) but also very limited in area and our peripheral vision is very poor.

So if you design an application that fills a 1920x1080 resolution for example, you are forcing users to rotate their eyeballs more than necessary, which causes physical strain. Worse, you are almost certainly putting possibly relevant elements outside the users' visual sweet spot. Again, unless the application is something that is pure text and only has a few columns, pick a resolution that keeps everything fairly close together.

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we are forcing users to exercise their eyeballs -- this is a service! who doesn't want strong eyeballs! –  jlarson Oct 2 '13 at 23:18
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