Survival of the Widest

In the last couple months, I’ve noticed some major sites unveil major redesigns that use more of the screen. I put this down to increases in the size of monitors and the speed and prevelance of broadband connections. I’m a fan of these changes, not just because I own a widescreen LCD and hate clicking “next page”, but because I think these trends will lead to richer, more interactive Web content.

For a hint at where I think things are going, take a look at CBS’ “Survivor: Guatemala.” The show’s annoying, but the Web presence is big and bold, with large photos and liberal use of Flash.

There are plenty of other examples, but I like “Survivor” as an illustration because it has a history. For example, compare the photos of cute boy Jamie (who looks better on the show) in Season 11 with cute boy Ethan from Season 8. The difference is huge: Jamie’s image is four times the size of Ethan’s (which is itself almost double those from Season 4, for example.)

Similarly, the use of Flash has increased markedly. The original Survivor on CBS has GIF (max 256 colors) mugshots with plain pages, though the source reveals a small “songcube” file that plays the annoying background music. Fast-forward 10 more seasons, and the whole screen is big photos, swapped out periodically via Flash.

I’m no fan of gratuitous Flash, but bigger, richer photos? Web sites that use more of my screen real estate and work to take better advantage of the medium’s strengths? Yeah, I’m down for that.

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