SBP Blog

Developing software applications: one pixel at a time

Dec 23, 2014 by Alin

Display resolutions, through their commercial impact and their diversity, have an important role in software development. Applications and websites must be adapted to work (ideally) on all the available display resolutions (on a certain device model, or across multiple devices). This significantly increases development and testing time, leading to complex projects and infrastructure (which, in turn, can favor outsourcing companies, as opposed to smaller contractors or freelancers).

Display Resolutions – Days of the Future Past

Recently released devices lean towards one of the following display resolutions:

  •     1920x1080, 2560x1440 and 3840x2160 for computer monitors
  •     1366x768 and 1920x1080 for laptops
  •     1280x768, 1080x1920 and 2560x1440 for smartphones

Past: The tendency has always lead to higher display resolutions, however software development companies should always take into consideration even the old, "unfriendly" display resolutions, such as 800x600 or 640x480. This should also be the approach of the future, when application will have to "unfortunately" support display resolutions that are common nowadays (such as 1920x1080). Especially for software outsourcing companies (which typically develop a large variety of applications, targeted to a wide array of device models & resolutions), correctly managing the testing on multiple resolutions is crucial for being able to develop stable & friendly user interfaces.

Present: As a response to the challenges and difficulties raised by the wide array of display resolutions, design and development paradigms changed towards a responsive design, especially for web applications. HTML5 and CSS3 technologies are great tools, that can be used for providing everyone with a smooth web experience, regardless of their device.

Future: Applications and websites that want to pass the test of time must be prepared for frequent changes. During the last 10-15 years, the common display resolutions changed many times from 800x600 to 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1366x768 and others. Also, many display resolutions that are rapidly gaining popularity nowadays (such as 4K) didn't even exist a few years ago.


The software and hardware markets are rapidly changing and evolving and display resolutions make no exception. Keeping up with the latest trends can be a challenge, but it's a must for software development. When developing a custom application (under a B2B / outsourcing contract), the resolution criteria is not paramount - but when developing a B2C product, you must tailor it for as many users as possible (meaning that you can't ignore the display resolution aspect).

We know that display resolutions are an interesting software development challenge (or pain... sometimes), but applications have to adapt to the trends in order to remain relevant. I would like to hear what was your biggest software development challenge, related to display resolutions :)

Other article in this series:

New Year's Resolution

Tags: Future  IT-Trends  software 


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