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Create Your Best Digital Screen Experience

Written by Gretchen DeGlopper, Sr. UX/UI Designer

Before you design a new digital application, you must consider how the physical screen it will be displayed on affects the experience. The characteristics of display hardware determine if it can be used effectively to perform a task, and when used in a healthcare setting, it could ultimately affect the safety of patients. Here are a few important factors to consider.

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Screen Size:

The physical size of a screen should be appropriate for the purpose of the application. For instance, if the display is going to be used for an educational application, a larger screen is preferable to a smaller one. If it will be used to quickly check data or when physical space for the display may be at a premium, then smaller screens may be more suitable. It’s also important to consider how far away from the screen the user will be. Use a display large enough to accommodate that the person can see the information without any difficulty.

Aspect Ratio:

Aspect ratio refers to the shape of a screen’s frame: whether they’re rectangular or square-shaped and the relationship between height and width. The aspect ratio determines how much content will be displayed vertically and horizontally at any given time, so you’ll want to make sure that you choose one that has an aspect ratio that works best for your needs. The most common aspect ratios of screens larger than mobile devices are 16:9 and 4:3 so it’s best to design with those dimensions.


Like aspect ratio, resolution refers to the dimensions of a frame, but it describes how many pixels are on the screen (pixel density) and determines how clear and crisp the images appear. In general, the higher the resolution or the greater the density of pixels, the sharper the image will be. If you have ever used an old computer with low-resolution graphics or watched an older TV show with blurry images on it, then you know why high resolutions matter. As with screen size, it’s important to factor in the user’s position. Fine details may not be perceivable at greater distances.


A bright display will allow users to see content clearly without straining their eyes—especially when viewing in a clinical setting where lights are dim. Having adjustable controls to select from multiple levels of brightness helps people with different visual acuity make adjustments to accommodate their vision and adapt to changes in lighting in the room.

Viewing Angle:

The viewing angle determines what can be seen in front or to the side of a screen. The wider the viewing angle is, the more you can comfortably see screen content from different places. The technology of the display also influences whether the image can be seen from wide or narrow angles. Before selecting a display, be sure you know all the possible places users will be positioned relative to it.

Screen refresh rate:

This refers to how many times per second a monitor updates its data. A high refresh rate is necessary to ensure smoother transitions for graphics and animations.


If users are working by a window or near bright lights, you’ll want a screen with an anti-glare coating so that they aren’t interrupted by harsh lighting conditions.


Color settings have enormous implications for usability, accessibility, aesthetics, and design elements such as logos and product branding. Color can vary between manufacturers, but the good news is color can usually be calibrated. This is done by matching colors on the screen to a printed document with high color accuracy.

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