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July 11, 2012

It’s about tomorrow, not today (or yesterday)

Filed under: Apple,Design — admin @ 10:58 am

A few days ago Marco Arment tweeted:

If you’re a web designer, you really, really need to get a Retina MacBook Pro so you can see how bad your site looks on it and fix it.

To which Anna Debenham retorted:

If you’re a web designer, you really, really need to get a cheap Dell monitor so you can see how bad your site looks on it and fix it.

A cute reposte but one that kinda misses the sentiment of Marco’s original tweet. In a follow-up post on his blog, Marco explains the rationale behind his original tweet:

Even though it’s [the high-DPI market] a small market today (although don’t forget about the iPad 3), it’s inevitably going to increase substantially in the near future. Don’t you want to get ahead of that? Do you want your site to be ready the first time someone views it on a Retina screen, or are you OK with it looking like garbage for a few years until you happen to buy high-DPI hardware?

Which further explains — to those who thought his original tweet was misguided — his rationale, one that I totally agree with. To suggest viewing designs on a poor monitor should be part of a designer’s workflow is looking at how things are today. Marco’s tweet was surely intended to get designers thinking about tomorrow.

There are things we, as designers, can do to make sure the digital solutions we create look great on these new high resolution displays. There’s little we can do to improve the experience of someone viewing our site on a ‘cheap Dell monitor’ that’s over & above what we normally do, such as ensuring sufficient colour contrast.

As happened with early versions of IE, there’ll possibly come a time where we don’t cater so much for low-DPI monitors. Design solutions will consider high-DPI displays ‘the norm’. We’re a good few years away from that, most definitely, but you have to believe that Apple will expand their product lines to include retina displays over the coming years. And it therefore follows that some — maybe not all, but some — PC makers will start producing high-DPI displays.

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