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I know variations of this question have been asked a lot but I havnt found one that exactly relates to my situation.

Im making a fixed-width website. Device detection will redirect phones to a separate mobile site. I need to decide on what width to make the main site and I have no existing analytics data to work from, however the site will be focused on the UK and not need to be global.

It seems the 960 width is irrelevant in Western Europe and 1024 is the smallest common screen width, meaning that a slightly narrower design to account for scroll bars is the way to go.

I had a quick look at the facebook site which has its main breakpoint for smaller displays at 981px. So this would allow for 43px which seems more than necessary.

Please dont post here saying the site should be responsive, device detection is unreliable, etc. I know this but but the client has decided not to go with responsive / mobile optomised and this cant be changed.

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960 isn't a common width because it matches a screen size, but instead because it fits comfortably on 1024 and smaller with a health margin at 1024, still a common screen size. (of course it's still not a break point, just says) –  Ben Brocka Nov 8 '12 at 15:30
    
You're basically asking us how to go about building a site the wrong way. But if that's what the client wants, so be it--but that also lets you off the hook. At that point, just pick a size and be done with it. –  DA01 Nov 9 '12 at 0:38
    
I would say thats a massive simplification. There are still many fixed width sites that work just fine, and they wouldn't if they were too wide for a large number of users. Look at facebook's site, its barely responsive. –  jdln Nov 9 '12 at 10:02
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2 Answers 2

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I would say that there are two things for you to consider here

  • How much width do you need that you can fit in your content without it looking too crowded. The amount of width you have will also determine how your site will be structured and what is the range of widths you can potentially accommodate for.

  • Once you figured that out, look at statistics which are available in sites like GS stat counter to determine the resolution across UK

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The problem is those are screen resolution stats...not browser width stats. –  DA01 Nov 9 '12 at 0:39
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You need to consider the resolution that the page is viewed in..imho, you may choose anywhere from 750px to 950px and adopt a center-aligned layout..

  • for 1024x768 resolution, use a width less than 980 pixels
  • for 800x600 resolution, use a width less than 760 pixels

Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_best_width_for_a_fixed-width_page_layout_and_why

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