I was surprised to notice today that the vast majority of visitors to LessonIndex.com (93.7%) have displays that are at least 1024 pixels wide. But that doesn’t mean that web pages should be designed with that width in mind!
First, it’s critical to recognize that many computer users don’t “maximize” their web browser window. Although the screen resolution might be 1024×768 or larger, the window size might be smaller.
Second, you must recognize that most users would be quite uncomfortable reading text that’s spread across the full width of their display. Instead, text should usually be displayed in narrower columns, with a maximum of 800 pixels, but usually even smaller, especially for small fonts.
Third, many visitors may use the “resize” or “zoom” features in their web browsers, to view your web page with larger fonts (or just plain larger). Note that “control-plus” and “control-minus” function differently in different web browsers (in some browsers, the font size is changed but not images; in others, the entire page is enlarged, including text and images).
Here’s a link to a useful article discussing web design and screen resolution: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/screen_resolution.html