Multi Device Design

HOW TO: Design for Different Screen Sizes

Designing websites and online interfaces is no longer as simple as designing for a single user screen resolution. The days of single resolution desktop computers have passed, giving way to a wide range of smart phones, touch interfaces, and other devices.

Different Screen Size

This range of user interfaces has complicated the designer’s job, leaving many wondering how to simplify design creation processes for this vast consumer market. Here are a few steps you can take to ease this process and ensure your content reaches its intended users.

Consider Your Options

Mulitple Screen Size Design

Although many designers are currently searching for a single solution to these screen resolution dilemmas, the truth is that this singular solution doesn’t exist. Rather, three primary options are available and the one you select will depend on your unique design situation. These three options are:

  1. Research the current standards regarding designing for multiple platforms and follow them. This will help your designs reach as many platforms as possible.
  2. Design two versions, one for large screen resolutions and one for smaller platforms. Then, direct consumers to the appropriate version based on their device.
  3. Create a different design for all available devices.

The most commonly recommended option among these three is designing a larger version and a smaller version. This is the simplest option that will increase the chances of your designs reaching the intended audience. The first and third options aren’t as highly recommended because they can become very time intensive when design standards begin changing or when new platforms are released.

So, how do you determine the large size and the small size to create? A great starting point is creating designs for the standards of a typical computer’s screen resolution and the standard smartphone resolution. A computer’s current standard resolution is 1024 x 768 and the current standard smartphone resolution is 320 x 480.

Know Your Audience

A key aspect of ensuring the success of your designs is determining your target audience. Research is crucial here, because it will help determine which devices your target audience members are using so you can better meet their demands. People won’t stick around if your design is difficult to view or doesn’t function well on their device. As such, determining their needs is one step you can’t afford to skip.

However, while you want to come as close as possible to meeting the demands of your target market, you must also recognize you will never fully meet the demands of every consumer. As new devices are released, you will inevitably encounter issues for serving the needs of those customers who purchase them. However, in recognizing you can’t meet the needs of everyone, you can try to come as close as possible to show your commitment to the consumer.

While your job as a designer will only become more complex with advances in technology, you can simplify your tasks by following the advice listed above. The most important thing is that you remain informed on the latest changes in screen resolution technology and adapt your design practices to match those changes.

Aimee Sway

This is a guest post by Aimee Sway, blogging for, one of the top printing companies. Follow her on Twitter @ PrintExpressUK and like on Facebook!