How to Set the Right Width for Your WordPress Website
There is no question that the width of a website can dramatically affect its performance. If you’re operating a WordPress-powered website, then there is a clear solution that will help you fix your web pages in a hurry. And, it’s so easy to implement that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
The right width for your WordPress website can be determined using the “mobile first” approach. This method starts with testing on a small scale, then iterating and benchmarking as needed. Begin by making a few quick pages and running them through GZille, a free Google Analytics tool (preferably from the dashboard). You can use this to track the behavior of your website visitors.
From there, you can use the information to help determine the ideal width for your website. The idea is to make the page as accessible and usable as possible for visitors on all devices. This may mean increasing the width a bit to accommodate larger phones. But, you’ll find that most desktop browsers are just fine with the standard width.
So, what is the right width for your WordPress website? It’s constantly changing, but here are some general guidelines. Feel free to tweak and experiment as needed to find the right fit for your website.
The Mobile First Approach
If you’ve ever shopped for furniture on a mobile phone, then you’ll have no problem understanding the motivation behind mobile first. The idea is to provide a consistent experience, no matter what device is being used to access the website. So, your first task is to optimize the layout of your website for mobile use. This means adjusting the height and width of the website’s elements to fit the smaller windows of a cell phone or tablet.
When done well, the result is a much more enjoyable and accessible web browsing experience for everyone.
To find the right width for your website, begin by making a few quick pages in WordPress. Then, using GZille, you can test your web pages’ behavior in different browser window sizes. From there, you can use the information to help determine the ideal width.
For years, the accepted width for a WordPress website was 1024px, the width of a normal desktop browser window. But, times have changed, and so has the ideal width for a WordPress website. In 2018, the standard is 1280px, the same as a large desktop browser window. With wider screens and mobile phones becoming more prevalent, it’s time to expand your horizons and consider the width of a larger screen. When using the desktop version of WordPress, you can simply add this value to your style.css to set the width of your text, images, and other elements to 1280px.
The Full Width Approach
If you’ve ever worked with Photoshop or InDesign, you know that having a fixed width is great for some designs, but can hurt the overall look of your page if used inappropriately. With the full width approach, you fix the width of your website’s content area (where the text and images are), leaving the rest of the content area (the sidebar and footer) to float, or flow, within the browser window.
To do this, begin by making a few quick pages in WordPress. Then, using GZille, you can test your web pages’ behavior in different browser window sizes. From there, you can use the information to help determine the ideal width for your website. To keep your website’s content aligned, make sure that the overall width of your web pages (including the content area) is no wider than 1280px. Anything wider, and the content becomes difficult to read due to the lack of white space on either side of the text.
As with desktop browsers, the ideal width for a mobile browser window changes with increasing screen sizes. For tablets and smartphones, the width is 1680px, which is the same as a small laptop or desktops browser window. When used on a mobile device, this width helps make the most of its display real estate. When viewed on a smaller device, the content becomes more crowded and difficult to access. So, to improve readability on a small device, you can either reduce the width of your website’s content or opt for a larger device to access your content.
A Minimum Width
While there is no fixed rule for the ideal width for a website, a good starting point is 1,280px. This is the minimum required width for a desktop browser and various mobile browsers. If your content is wider than this, then you can use the full width approach mentioned above.
Breaking Out of The “Box”
Once you determine the ideal width for your website, you can use this value to help create optimal experience for your audience by creating content that is easy to read and accessible on all devices. Ensure that your design software and templates are built with this in mind, using a modular layout that can be updated easily. For example, if you’re using a WordPress theme, you can use shortcodes to insert a block of content that is the same width as your ideal width. Doing this prevents any awkward page breaks, which can result from the content flowing outside of the browser window. Additionally, you can use inline style tags to apply the exact same styling to multiple elements (e.g.,