start a new site or
improve an existing
one with these
helpful hints
start a new site or
improve an existing
one with these
helpful hints

Website Design, Web Marketing, & Technical Tips make your site a success

archived web marketing tips and articles from the past

Why a web page may look different on different computers

A web page may look different on different computers for a wide varity of reasons.

 
The reasons include:
 
  • The screen resolution the monitor you are viewing the web page is set at.
  • The operating system used.
  • The web browser used
  • Individual user preferences
 

SCREEN RESOLUTIONS

The most common screen resolutions  these days are 1280x1024 or 1024x768 pixels. Some people with large monitors may even have theirs set at 1600x1200. And some older computers may still be set at 800x600 pixels. If standard web page is viewed on a lower resolution monitor -- everything appears larger, and lots of scrolling maybe required to view all the content. On a higher resolution monitor, everything appears smaller and no scrolling will be needed because everything is viewable -- there may even be excess space in the margins.
 
We recommend viewing websites at a screen resolution of 1280x1024 pixels. It's best to design for that resolution, as it is commonly used and allows for a fair amount of content to be viewable in the maximized browser window.

See an example of the different viewable areas at the most common screen resolutions.
 
MAC VS PC -- WHY THINGS LOOK DIFFERENT DEPENDING ON THE OS
 
Browser fonts have a tendency to look slightly different when rendered on a Mac vs a PC. Helvetica is a common Mac font for html text, but while it looks nice on a Mac, it can be difficult to read in PC browsers even with the font being properly installed on the PC -- that is why most san-serifed font stylesheets default to the easier to read font Arial first.
 
While browser fonts are very standardized these days, they still appear slightly different depending on the operating system and platform used. 
 
Mac browsers tend to anti-alias browser text smoother than it often appears on PCs.
 
One area where sites almost always look different is on pages with forms. Different operating systems and browsers render the buttons on forms and text boxes completely differently. On a PC, default submit buttons are square and pretty flat looking, on a Mac the default submit buttons are nicely shaded ovals with a gradient.
 
The forms will function the same, but may look different depending on what computer you are using.
 

DIFFERENT BROWSERS CAN RENDER THE SAME PAGE DIFFERENTLY

 
Each browser has its own bugs and quirks.Despite a web designers best attempts to get web pages to look the same on all computers through coding, different browsers will render the same page slightly differently.
 

USER PREFERENCES

 
While most new computer monitors are capable of viewing all posible colors, some computer users may still have their computers set at 16bit rather than 32bit color -- which might alter some of thecolors on the screen. Users should check to make sure their display properties are set to 32bit color.
 
Some users also overide font sizes, say to make fonts bigger. This can cause pages to look somewhat off.
 
Additionally monitors maybe calibrated differently, and some may appear darker or lighter depending on the monitor/computer used.
 
When in the process of designing websites, one should be aware that unlike print, things may look very different depending on what computer you are sitting at. Good web designers check their designes on a wide variety of computer browsers and operating systems. While designers try to make sites look the same across a wide variety of platforms, a website will never look exactly the same on every computer.