This is an age old debate, trying to strike a balance of usability between the users with older setups and smaller screen resolutions and those with modern wide-screen (or just plain hi-res) displays.
I have followed this debate for many years and the argument seems to always cater for “what the site looks like full-screen”. I don’t know how you work, but personally I have lots of things happening on my desktop and many windows open. I cannot remember the last time I opened a browser window full-screen.
That said, if I was running in 1024 x 768 resolution then maybe I would work differently, I don’t know because I have not used that resolution in 10 years.
The thing I love about hi-res displays is they allow me to have a browser windop open, still see parts of my desktop, have email visible (albeit not the whole window), but running full-screen just feels claustrophobic to me.
That said, I am less bothered about the upper end of the scale, they don’t HAVE to run full-screen, and providing the site isn’t too narrow then I’m sure they will manage.
This leads us to the question of “how narrow do we have to go?”. I am seeing more and more sites with quite large widths. A few years back 750px used to be the norm, then 850px. Nowadays a lot of sites are over 1000px wide. Is this too wide?
There is no answer to this, hence it has been an ongoing debate for years. How wide is too wide?
The other question to bear in mind is whether the content on the right makes a difference to how wide you are willing to go. If everything to the right of the 850px mark is adverts for example, does that mean that the fact that the users on lower resolutions (the minority) can see the navigation and the main body content make it an acceptable width?
My gut feeling was crossing the 1000px mark was a little bit much, but with a little bit of investigation I have found that some of the most widely used blog templates actually cross this boundary.
Has the width-creep occurred while I have been asleep?
In my mind these themes look fine. I even opened them on my secondary monitor (1280×1024) and it looks fine. I can’t say I would want it to be any wider, but still it looks fine to me.
What do you think? How wide is too wide?