I’ve always used my computer, a lot, even before computers became a trendy, popular thing. Web sites have, of course, been around for a long time as well.
Back when I first learned how to create a web page myself, in the late 1990s, I was taught that the general philosophy was to create something that was viewable on any system. I liked that idea, the idea of being all-inclusive, the idea of using a general layout and letting the individual user choose the display details. The operating system didn’t matter, the browser didn’t matter, and most importantly the screen resolution shouldn’t have mattered.
Now, when I browse the web I find the opposite. Almost every web site I’ve visited in the past few years (this blog host included — I can’t control it) has only displayed properly at a high screen resolution of 1024 x 768. At lower resolutions (like 800 x 600 or even 640 x 480) part of the pages won’t be visible without having to scroll them horizontally (and on very poorly designed web sites, the pages’ content will be cut off and therefore completely inaccessible at lower resolutions). While vertical scrolling is something that’s always been acceptable and manageable, having to also scroll horizontally is very cumbersome. I used to run at 800 x 600, and I was happy. Now I’m not.
This is not a nitpick. This is a health issue. I can easily jump up to 1024 x 768 and gain the benefit of fitting more data on my screen at once. My mind has no problem with that, and it doesn’t require very much reconfiguration of my system.
It’s my eyes that are bothered. Several years ago I tried running at 1024 x 768 all day, and I found by the end of the day that my eyes were literally sore. (I’m a software developer. I read and type all day.) When I went back to 800 x 600, I was fine.
The argument could be made that eye strain is my problem and that the world shouldn’t change for me. I’m not asking the world to change. I’m asking it to accommodate. It is possible to produce HTML and CSS code that displays comfortably at any resolution. The technical capability is there. Most people are just too sloppy and lazy to use it (or they blindly follow the orders from their sloppy, lazy bosses that tell them to only support displays that are 1024 pixels wide). The worst examples of this are when a site consists of only a small amount of text surrounded by lots of empty space, space that the text could occupy at low resolutions (using the ancient computer display technique of word wrap). When a site truly has a lot of information to convey, it is arguable that a high resolution is justifiable (even though it’s always possible to display any amount of information at low resolutions with vertical scrolling), but when there is very little information to display then requiring a high resolution creates an unnecessary problem. It’s irresponsible.
Merriam-Webster defines “tyranny” as “oppressive power”. I get bothered whenever a large group of people all decide to make the same decision (in this case, to only support high-resolution displays) and that decision affects me in a bad way.