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I am designing an application, primarily aimed at laptop users. What aspect ratio should I target it to look best at?

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closed as too localized by KronoS, Sathya Jun 19 '13 at 15:48

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echoing @Richard's answer/comment below, you really shouldn't be designing an app for a certain aspect ratio, unless you're targeting iDevices. A well-designed application flows naturally regardless of the screen size (within limits, of course, the fun days of 320x200 are gone), and you need to keep in mind that not everyone runs programs maximized. Google responsive design, even if you're not specifically making a web app, as there are a lot of good ideas out there. –  MattDMo Jun 19 '13 at 15:05
    
@MattDMo, as far as I can, I will of course strive for smooth resizing. However, its a heavy-ish app for small monitors and I am combating "minimum reasonable size, horizontal and vertical" for each feature. –  Vorac Jun 19 '13 at 15:16
    
Thanks to everyone for the rapid answers and comments. I intend to develop in 16:9 15.6" and test dynamic resizing often. –  Vorac Jun 19 '13 at 15:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  • 63.43% of monitor's are 16x9
  • 20.22% of monitor's are 16x10
  • 8.37% of monitor's are 4x3
  • The remaining 9% either fall into one of the above 3 categories or are something rare.

That said, you should write your software to work in all resolutions.

Source: The Steam Hardware survey

Bonus graph showing the what resolutions are most common: enter image description here

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Keep in mind that the Steam survey is, of course, targeting those who have Steam installed. That is, those who play games. If your target demographic is different, then you'll likely have different results. Especially since gamers tend to splurge a bit more on hardware. –  Bob Jun 19 '13 at 14:48
    
Entirely true and something to be aware of, but it's also the survey with the largest sample size that I could find. –  David Jun 19 '13 at 14:51

Most common these days is 16x9 or 16x10. The days of a 4x3 screen are gone. That said, you should try to make it work regardless of screen size/ratio.

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This might be true for laptops, but not necessarily for all users. Statistics show that second most popular sreen resolution is still 1024x768. –  buli Jun 19 '13 at 14:38
    
The question was about laptops, and I think that you will find that your stats are a little outdated. Check Jikag's post –  Rod MacPherson Jun 19 '13 at 14:47

If your aim is to provide really good user experience, the layout should adapt to different aspect ratios and screen configurations. Even for the "laptop subset" of screens, there are different ratios, DPI configurations, also some laptop screens are also touch-based (and good-looking layout might not be touch-friendly). Netbooks might have the same aspect ratio as 17'' notebook, but if you don't consider the difference, user experience might be poor.

I know this is not technology-specific questions, but here are some Microsoft guidelines for scaling to screens for Windows 8 apps. This might not be entirely useful in your project, but shows the importance of layout planning. This flexibility should not be very difficult with any modern UI technologies though.

For the direct answer about populat resolutions, see some browser statistics.

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