Screen Resolutions and Aspect Ratios Worldwide 27 November, 2007 — 13 commentsStuart Brown

Screen real estate availability across a selection of countries

Posted in Analysis, Web Design
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Intended screen resolution is a deciding factor in terms of a site design and layout - catering for smaller resolutions is a key factor for accessibility and for ensuring as many readers as possible can read your content. But how does screen size vary with locale?

The general rule-of thumb is to go as low as possible - if your design works perfectly at 800x600, great - if it's operable at 640x480 or lower, even better. However, as technology progresses, screens are getting larger and the sizes less uniform - 4:3 is slowly losing favour to widescreen ratios, such as 16:9 and 16:10.

In certain circumstances, the market or demographic which you are aiming at can affect your intended viewing resolution - technical and design-oriented sites can benefit from a substantially larger than average resolution. Different regions also have slightly different profiles - widescreen monitors are more popular in some regions than others, for instance.

Below are statistics compiled from 18 months worth of log data from Modern Life - a sample size of well over a million visitors, from all over the world. I took the screen resolution data from the top 25 visiting countries and compiled them into two key metrics - the average screen resolution (in megapixels, calculated by multiplying the horizontal resolution be the vertical and dividing by 1,000,000), and the average screen ratio (average height divided by average width).

The results show some interesting trends.

Average screen resolution, worldwide

average screen resolution worldwide

Here, the green countries show a trend towards higher resolution displays, the red towards lower resolutions. India had the lowest average display size, at 0.872 megapixels - an average of slightly higher than 1024x768.

The highest resolutions were found in Scandinavia and Central Europe - with Switzerland boasting an average resolution of 1.306 megapixels - about the equivalent of 1280x1024.

Average screen ratio, worldwide

average screen ratio worldwide

Average screen ratio serves as an indicator for the prevalence of widescreen monitors - countries in green have wider resolutions, on average. Denmark, Belgium, the U.S. and Italy have the highest incidence on widescreen resolutions.

Russia, on the other hand, despite a higher average resolution, favours 4:3 and 5:4 resolution screens - and thus are likely to have more vertical resolution available.

Resolution vs. Ratio, per country

Graph showing screen resolution versus ratio, divided by country

This scatter graph illustrates groupings more clearly - Western Europe is concentrated on the right hand side, Asia and South America to the left. Russia is distinct in being the only country to have an average resolution taller than 4:3 - a feat accomplished by the popularity of 1280x1024 (which is in the ratio 5:4).

There would also appear to be weak positive correlation between screen size and ratio - larger screens are more likely to be widescreen (which makes sense, given the increased suitability of larger screens for presenting widescreen content).

Tablular Data

Country Avg. Megapixels Avg. Ratio
India 0.872 0.739
Brazil 0.913 0.748
Argentina 0.943 0.746
China 0.950 0.732
Mexico 0.999 0.722
Turkey 1.018 0.734
Singapore 1.035 0.720
United Kingdom 1.049 0.730
Spain 1.074 0.734
Poland 1.085 0.734
Romania 1.096 0.745
Italy 1.129 0.718
Japan 1.134 0.744
Canada 1.138 0.722
Russia 1.160 0.756
United States 1.167 0.720
Australia 1.179 0.727
France 1.184 0.723
Belgium 1.209 0.715
Netherlands 1.224 0.725
Germany 1.233 0.731
Finland 1.239 0.733
Denmark 1.264 0.717
Sweden 1.269 0.727
Switzerland 1.306 0.725

Methodology

Total sample size: 1,110,495, based on data accrued via Google Analytics for modernlifeisrubbish.co.uk. Data from May 2006 through November 2007. Resolution data sample taken from the top 10 most commonly occurring resolutions taken (outliers excluded). Data collected for only the top 25 most commonly occurring countries.

You may download the raw data as an Excel spreadsheet here.

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