It probably has been asked before - but the answer is likely to change
with time (as monitor sizes vary or normalize) so the question is
still as relevant as ever.

If you were to ask the question to Jakob Nielson, he would say
optimize for 1024x768 [1] and provide a liquid content area.

But you really need to look at it from a few angles:
- Your intended audience i.e. Intranet users most likely won't be
viewing your site on their mobiles or Playstations. But users of a
social networking site might.
- Screen resolution data. i.e. If you expect 95% of your audience to
be using 800x600 then there is a compelling reason to optimize for
that

>> adapt to user's needs

I agree - adapt to user's needs. However, a liquid layout in my
opinion does not always offer that.
Liquid layouts are generally a good idea, but are not always perfect.
For example, how do you create a liquid layout to cater for a mobile
and a widescreen plasma? You might try something like Switchy McLayout
found at A List Apart [2], but these different mediums really require
tailored content. Adapting to the user's needs in this case means
providing different content and maybe even a different interface.

To clarify my position though - I would agree with Jakob Nielson in
the general sense, keeping my audience in mind. But knowing your
user's will give you more insight into what you _should_ do.

-- 
Matt Fellows
http://www.onegeek.com.au/

[1] - http://www.useit.com/alertbox/screen_resolution.html
[2] - http://www.alistapart.com/articles/switchymclayout


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