Large page headers and hero graphics are very popular right now; in fact they are so popular that in 5 years we'll look back on the 2010-2012 internet era as the rise and fall of oversized, in your face images and headers. Those oversized home page photos are known as "hero graphics."
While website header design growing, computer screen size is shrinking. Not too long ago the latest and greatest computer monitor was a 24 inch or 32 inch, but now it seems like the PC is quickly being replaced with laptop and netbook computers. Naturally those portable computers have smaller screen sizes.
And when it comes to really small screen sizes... let's not even mention mobile devices right now.
In the 2003-2006 internet era we saw a transition from websites that were designed with a static width of about 800 pixels to designs that filled a screen from right to left. At the time those designs looked nice on the then popular 17 inch and 19 inch monitors.
Once flat screen monitors became affordable they also became larger. Those full screen website designs didn't look very good on those 24 and 32 inch screen. Yuck! So much negative space! That's when design started transitioning back to static widths.
Most of the websites we're seeing now are 1000 pixels wide, but according to research published by Google, that might still be too wide. We'll explain this, but if you want to see a cool graph take a look at what Google's showing us here:
According to that Google Labs website, only 80% of computer owners now will see the full 1000 pixel wide website. The other 20% will have to scroll right to left to see the full site.
It looks like the best website designs are between 800 and 950 pixels wide. This is not so bad, and in fact, that tightly constrained size should force you to realize you need less information on every web page so you don't clutter them up.
Now back to those big headers and hero home page graphics.
We don't understand the trend, but many website designs (not just in the jewelry industry) have headers that are 300 pixels tall or taller on every page of the site. Furthermore, those home page hero graphics range in height from 300 to 500 pixels tall. Put those together and now you have a home page height between 600 to 800 pixels tall.
As we cross reference that Google Labs website we see that 90% of all users have a 500 pixel tall monitor and 80% if users have a 550 pixel tall monitor.
The bottom line here is that, even though you might think they look snazzy, tall headers and home page hero graphics can only be seen by 40% of all users. The rest of us have to scroll.
No matter how you look at it, scrolling is bad news for usability. Bad usability can translate into lower customer retention, and therefore lower sales.
Since you should be redesigning your website once every 18 months now, make sure you test your website design while it's still in the design phase, and pay attention to the current popular screen sizes.