Snapster wrote:My comment implied that defining center is to some degree relative of your surroundings and distance from your screens - a larger screen or multiple screens could mean a larger comfortable center. In addition I'd add that the edges of this comfort zone extend relative to the length of time you intend to spend reading/working on them. This is why sidebar widgets on the desktop are great - it's content there at a glance in a less than prime area of the screen for long term viewing.
So I definitely agree with what the fact that center reading is more comfortable. It's the size of this center sweet spot and the important measure of how much time will be spent reading/working in each zone of the page that we might disagree on. I would enjoy a webpage that had compelling content to offer me immersive experience within this zone and even some content at the fringe of this zone. If my technology allows for additional sidebar widgets outside of this zone on my desktop, that's even better.
Our technology used to, until someone decided to start a wide website trend. ;) You agree the center is the sweet spot, yet Woot's main content is left aligned. It wasn't a problem before because the smaller width allowed the left edge to actually be closer to center. But now for a lot of us it's all the way against the left edge of the screen. Sure, we can still drag the window to the center, but that's when the scrollbar ugliness kicks in.
Snapster wrote:I believe once you define that zone and compare it to the capabilities of even existing higher end desktop displays, the best size for a webpage to exist in the future is greater in pixel width than the 960/1024 size you are pitching as the ideal permanent maximum.
If pixel density increases significantly in the future, then by all means the presentation width should increase accordingly to compensate. However, graphical and text elements would need to increase in size as well, somewhat nullifying the effect. In other words, it would be the same visible size but clearer due to more pixels making up the presentation area. IMO, it's actually been a long time since increased pixel density allowed for additional content in the same visible footprint. Besides, you're not compensating for increased pixel density here. You're expanding into additional visible space.
Snapster wrote:EDIT - this part of the conversation would be much simpler if anyone was experienced with "field of view" data which would allow us to combine distance and size. then we could add in discussion of maximum pixel density at average viewing distance and perhaps get close to a consensus.
I have no idea of the numbers but the calculation itself would look something like this:
X degree primary zone field of view at Y viewing distance = Z wide primary sweet spot and a larger Z+A degree calculation for fringe perception = ZZ total wide design zone. Then backtrack at same Y viewing distance human eye could comfortably distinguish B pixel density. So we'd have ZZ wide and B*ZZ for total resolution.
I think you're over-engineering it a bit, something I'm often accused of myself. Y varies from user to user and X varies by personal preference, making any actual calculation of Z and ZZ completely subjective. Granted there's probably a narrow range of acceptable Z and ZZ values, but then you have to incorporate B which varies from device to device. As much as I wish everything could be calculated, I believe user feedback based on their perceptions is far more valuable in this instance.