Well that didn’t take long – this post is not about when to use technology. Instead, it’s about window sizes.
Frankly, it’s far more useful to know window pixel height/width at run time than design time. With that information, breakpoints can be carefully designed to change layout and hide/show content so that the design is useful at multiple window sizes. The breakpoints can be determined based on components in the design with “fixed” sizes, such as images or buttons with fixed text.
Nevertheless, it can be helpful to know browser window sizes at design time in certain circumstances, such as in corporate environments or other controlled deployments where the screen resolution is more or less fixed. Knowing these details at design time can help inform decisions about layout, and the constraints could force some prioritization of content, which generally results in a more readable, “simpler” interface.
The best resource I found for determining window size is whatsmy.browsersize.com, which tells screen size and browser window size. I’m going to use the results to determine the best design for a desktop-first page I’m working on, where the page will be full of widgets. We need to evaluate questions like “how many widgets can we show if we show strings up to N characters vs. M characters?” and “how many widgets can we show if we overlay all the subwidgets onto the primary image vs create a dedicated pane for the subwidgets?”
Feel free to leave comments about other uses for knowing the window size at design time, or if there’s a better method for evaluating how design choices affect number of widgets on a page!