Category Archives: Web Design

Web metrics aint as easy as page counts

An AP report today states that Nielsen/NetRatings, one of the leading Internet stats services, will “scrap rankings” based on page views and replace it with how long visitors spend at websites. The reason is that online video and technologies such as Ajax “increasingly make page views less meaningful.” We’ve known for some time, but it’s big news if a major stats service like Nielsen/NetRatings officially degrades the importance of page views…Blogs are a good case where ‘time spent’ is more meaningful than page views. Especially since the blogosphere is particularly prone to the ‘quantity over quality’ problem. It’s easy to pump out 20+ posts a day – and that tactic garners a lot of page views. But are those blogs actually writing for their readers, or writing to get page views? In other words, check the ‘time spent on site’ figures for those blogs and I think you’d find it is very low – because users click through, find nothing of value, and quickly leave. Is that good for advertisers on those sites? No it isn’t.

Read this item from the Read/Write Web


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Filed under Technology, our Mirror, Web Design, When New Meets Old

Preferred reading: Text clustered in circles.

Scientific research conducted by Walker Reading Technologies, a small Minnesota startup that has been studying our ability to read for the last ten years, has concluded that the natural field of focus for our eyes is circular, so our eyes view the printed page as if we’re peering through a straw. And a very bad-behaving straw at that, because not only do our eyes feed our brain the words we’re reading, they’re also uploading characters and words from the two sentences above and below the line we’re reading. Every time we read block text, we’re forcing our brain to a wage a constant subconscious battle with itself to filter and discard the superfluous inputs. This mental tug of war slows reading speed and diminishes comprehension.

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from Venture Beat. Commentary from MetaFilter and an examination of just how much textual information we consume each day from the Read/Write Web.

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Filed under Usability, Web Design

NADD: News Attention Deficit Disorder

Online news articles can lose their appeal in as little as an hour. That is the message from two statistical physicists who analysed the way people access information on the user-driven news site….Through a statistical analysis of the site, the researchers discovered that just a handful of stories hog most people’s attention and most links seem to lose their appeal in just 69 minutes. Wu and Huberman say the finding could perhaps help website designers find new ways to keep people interested when faced with an avalanche of information. The team say that Digg provides an ideal “natural laboratory” for observing the collective behaviour of online news readers. This is because the choice of links on Digg, and the prominence these are given, is determined by users.

Read this article in New Scientist

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Filed under Media Evolution, Technology, our Mirror, Web Design, When New Meets Old

Web design, content dictate perceived credibility

Data from 574 participants were used to assess perceptions of message, site, and sponsor credibility across four genres of websites; to explore the extent and effects of verifying web-based information; and to measure the relative influence of sponsor familiarity and site attributes on perceived credibility.The results show that perceptions of credibility differed, such that news organization websites were rated highest and personal websites lowest, in terms of message, sponsor, and overall site credibility, with e-commerce and special interest sites rated between these, for the most part.The results also indicated that credibility assessments appear to be primarily due to website attributes (e.g. design features, depth of content, site complexity) rather than to familiarity with website sponsors. Finally, there was a negative relationship between self-reported and observed information verification behavior and a positive relationship between self-reported verification and internet/web experience.

Synopsis from Andrew J. Flanagin & Miriam J. Metzger’s The role of site features, user attributes, and information verification behaviors on the perceived credibility of web-based information/em> from the Journal of New Media & Society.

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Filed under Technology, our Mirror, Web Design

Web Design as easy as CSB: Content, Style and Behavior

There are three important parts to a Web page: Content, Style, and Behavior. And the best Web developers know what they are and how to keep them separate. But it’s easy to get hung up in any one of the three layers – in fact, most developers prefer one layer over another when developing pages. But if you can keep them separate you’ll build pages that will be more effective in the long term and easier to maintain no matter which layer you prefer.

Read this web design article at

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Web users prefer RIA to HTML

Web users like rich Internet applications (RIAs) because they’re easy to use. But how does the usability of RIA and HTML applications compare? To find out, we evaluated both. We looked for examples of rich Internet and HTML applications in each of four categories and compared how well they supported relevant user goals. We found that, on average, RIAs outperform HTML interfaces; at the same time, RIA usability can fall prey to basic design mistakes. To make the most of their investments, firms planning to invest in RIAs must apply design best practices and run multiple tests on their RIAs before — and after — they go live.

Read an excerpt from the Forrester research paper Rich Internet Applications Versus HTML with commentary from the Read/Write Web and ZDNet

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Filed under The Reading Room, Usability, Web Design

Nielsen’s top ten web design mistakes updated

1. Bad Search
2. PDF Files for Online Reading
3. Not Changing the Color of Visited Links
4. Non-Scannable Text
5. Fixed Font Size
6. Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility
7. Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement
8. Violating Design Conventions
9. Opening New Browser Windows
10. Not Answering Users’ Questions

Read Jakob Nielsen’s list with commentary from his usability site (Sorry.  Violating rule #9 here.)  Contribute to the article for usability expert Jakob Nielsen at the Whats New Media Wiki.

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Filed under Usability, Web Design