Measuring screen resolution versus viewport size

Screen resolution versus viewport size

There’s a difference between the ‘screen size’ measured as standard in Google Analytics and the ‘browser size’ or ‘browser viewport’. Especially on mobile devices, there are pitfalls comparing the two.

Browser viewport is the actual visible area of the HTML, after the width of scroll bars and height of button, address, plugin and status bars has been allowed for.

Desktop computer screens have got much bigger over the last decade, but browser viewports (the visible area within the browser window) are not.

The CSS tricks site found only 1% of users have their browser viewing in the full screen. While only 9% of visitors to his site had a monitor less than 1200px wide in 2011, around 21% of users have a browser viewport of less than that width.

Simply put, on a huge monitor you don’t browse the web using your full screen. Therefore, ‘screen resolution’ may be much larger than ‘viewport size’.

The best solution is to post browser viewport size to GA as a custom dimension.

P.S. Google Analytics does have a feature within In Page Analytics (under Behaviour section) to overlay Browser Size, but it doesn’t work for any of the sites I look at.

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