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The other day I was discussing about the use of the standard (965px more or less) on the header images / navs.

I was pretty sure about the increasing use of high resolutions, so that means on full-width headers could improve more the user experience on that way. More space, more clean, more readability.

On the other hand, I got an important input about it about the "standard" experience-based users. They are not used to working with full-width headers.

Clues?

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Note that higher screen resolutions does not translate into wider web browsers. Also note that as people use larger screens on the desktop, they are also using smaller screens via mobile. –  DA01 Mar 18 at 15:33

3 Answers 3

There's no generic way to give you an answer to this. It all depends on the bigger picture of what your site is, who it's for and what it does.

But do note that 'bigger is not always better' when it comes to UX. While there are certainly arguments to take up the full amount of horizontal space on a wide monitor, there's also arguments to NOT do that including:

  • many people do not browse with their browsers maximized
  • text can get really hard to read when the line lengths are too long.
  • it's often easier to scan page content top-to-bottom with narrower content areas
  • white space can be a really useful tool to 'frame' the important content. Margins are not a bad thing.
  • etc
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What about using full-width headers for focus on call to action buttons in the middle? –  Xavi Alsina Mar 19 at 14:58
    
@XaviAlsina again, there is no real way to answer that without seeing the site and offering up opinions. –  DA01 Mar 19 at 15:20
    
I'll need the feedback as soon I got a new project wich requires this kind of header –  Xavi Alsina Mar 19 at 15:23

You have to weigh up the options in front of you to fully determine if a full size image is the best solution.

Full size images have been noted to offer a better experience but really they just offer more of a fun factor. Depending on what the point is you don't need to worry about experiences but rather how appropriate it is?

In my experience full size images just create a clearer style / atmosphere... So many clients of mine have overlooked big imagery and just scanned for the call to actions and buttons.

You also have the issue of bad internet connections and how to deal with big images on mobile? No matter how good the resolution or screen if you have a bad'ish' connection it will be low quality.

Personally, you should check the overall design and if the design / context is lacking because of not having a full size image? then just use it... But otherwise it's not vital to the user experience.

Hope this helps.

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The OP is talking about header widths. I think you're talking about full-screen background images? –  DA01 Mar 18 at 15:33

In my experience, this all depends on the users.

If your users are higher tech users on desktops, their screens are quite likely to be a lot greater in width, and it would make sense to build in full-width.

However, there are still a very large concentration of markets which are low tech with small screens, large screens with low resolutions (aka widescreen TVs), and small screen tablet and laptop users.

Plus, there's context on the work you're doing. Does it make aesthetic sense or would it be weird? I've seen a number of websites which went full width full bleed and the outcome was disjointed. There are a ton of examples where the application of such turns out great - but the ones which aren't great are the ones I like to find to learn from.

I say this and it may sound like I'm against full bleed - but I'm actually not. There have been several client projects when it made perfect sense to have full bleed widths. It supported the branding, centralized the eyes on the content, and made quite the impression. What matters is context. Everything is contextual to the users.

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