What is the big deal of high resolution computer displays anyway?

I really know how to beat my self up. As I have a few meet ups planned with designer friends and members of the design community here in Sydney in the next couple of weeks, I stupidly decided to re-do my portfolio in the midst of spring cleaning and potty training my son. After 4 late nights, of which the last night kept me up to 2am, my son decided to pull my big toe at 3.30am, 4.30am and 6.45am this morning. Murphy’s law dishes out punishment too easily.

Personally, I always find it liberating and enjoyable re-organizing and re-designing my portfolio, as you take stock and re-access the work you have done as well as your strengths and weaknesses as a designer. However this time was not a joy especially on my Dell Precision M60 running at 1920 x 1200, as all hail and curse the tiny font after 4 nights of squinting.
I don’t understand why Microsoft OS and PCs allow you to set the highest resolutions, ie more pixels or grid lines in a unit area, but still keep every font, icon or tool bar the same. As a result, when you increase in resolution bar to the right, all your fonts get smaller and smaller. This also meant my portfolio formatted for a 1024×768 screen had ant tiny scribbles for words.
Furthermore what I can’t understand is why do most software programs not scale up their text, fonts and toolbar when it detects a higher resolution? Especially those web browsers? I don’t seem to see this problem in Macs? Can any who has one verify this problem?
Here are some tips to help remove and fix those eye squinting problems on Windows XP:
1) Go to your display properties > appearance > and sent font size to “Large” or “Extra Large”
2) Then on the right click on Effects and tick “Large Icons”
It will come to a time very soon that laptops or monitors with higher resolutions displays will become pointless. This is because, for laptops in particular, you can’t go with a screen size any bigger as the device will become too cumbersome to carry around. So if you keep your physical display size to say a 15.4″ or 17″ screen, this means the higher resolution the harder it is to read your text.
Anyway before I go to sleep, here are some tips for designing a digital portfolio for your high-resolution screen:
1) Design it in a landscape format. This was the No.1 reason why I had to redo my folio. I ‘m a traditional kind of guy that likes my portfolio in a hard copy. With the square format 4:3 screen of the past, my A4 digital/hard copy portfolio page was fine. However with everybody going for the 16:9 cinema scope computer displays to watch downloaded porn, your portfolio needs to be in that same format as well, otherwise you lose a lot of information and space going for a portrait format.
2) Make sure you get your DPI and print size correct. Even though you have a high resolution screen if you use 1920×1200 as your canvas, note the print out size is about 6cm x 4cm! That’s tiny and useless! What I suggest is used a 1920×1200 screen format, but make sure your DPI is at lease 300 or 600 and the horizontal length corresponds to the longest physical length of a standard page A4 or A3. This is because many employers print out your folios to be kept on file.
3) Always convert your digital file into a jpeg to make sure your font size is readable. Sometimes working in digital format your font may seems ok while you work on it and have the ability to zoom in and out. But in reality on paper it’s either too big or too small. Adjust accordingly.
Sleep now required…

1 Comment
  • Jean Pierre Rupp

    January 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm Reply

    I would recommend against JPEG, and instead in favor of a vector format like PDF with embedded high resolution graphics. This way your fonts will always scale well, whether on screen or print.

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