Web Design Research Results

Some of the more enlightening/worthwhile results from a number of studies on design and usability conducted by Smashing Magazine, found via their otherwise-ordinary 10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines article:

General design decisions taken by the top 50 blogs (part two):

  • 92% use a fixed width layout with 56% varying the width between 951 and 1000px.
  • For body text, 90% use Verdana, Lucida Grande, Arial or Georgia with 78% using a font size between 12 and 14px.
  • Headlines are typically Arial or Georgia (52%), with a font size between 17 and 25px.
  • The front page presents excerpts of 10-20 posts in 62% of cases.
  • 50% offer links to related and/or popular posts.
  • 90% of footers contain copyright information, 40% contain links to About pages and 30% to contact information.
  • 76% provide ad-free articles.
  • 54% provide social icons under the post.
  • 66% display RSS buttons above the main layout area, while a similar percentage use the ‘standard’ RSS icon (as opposed to a text link) and employ only one RSS feed.
  • Only 5 blogs use tag clouds (10%) and 11 (22%) use pagination.
  • Nobody cares about standards (only 2 conform).

A study of the typography used on the top 50 blogs touched on some of the above and then went into more detail:

  • Sans-serif fonts are more popular for both headlines and body copy (although not by a large margin).
  • Headlines: Georgia, Arial or Helvetica between 18 and 29 pixels.
  • Body copy: Georgia, Arial, Verdana or Lucida Grande between 12 and 14 pixels.
  • Header font size ÷ Body copy font size = 1.96.
  • Line height (pixels) ÷ body copy font size (pixels) = 1.48.
  • Line length (pixels) ÷ line height (pixels) = 27.8.
  • Space between paragraphs (pixels) ÷ line height (pixels) = 0.754.
  • Optimal number of characters per line: between 55–75 (although 75–85 is more popular).
  • Body text is left-aligned, image replacement is rarely used and links are either underlined or highlighted with bold or color.

100 unspecified sites were used for this analysis of web form structure and design (part two):

  • 93% use single-page sign-up forms.
  • 41% of sites attract visitors by explaining the benefits of registration.
  • Vertically arranged fields are preferred to horizontally arranged fields (86%).
  • 82% of sites don’t ask for e-mail confirmation, although 72% required password confirmation.
  • Only 45% of sites used the thank-you message to motivate users to proceed with exploring the services of the site.

1 thought on “Web Design Research Results

  1. James

    I am a fan of smashing magazine, but i wonder if the general design decisions still stand as that article was from later 2008.
    I am willing to bet that both the rss feed numbers and the social icons numbers have largely changed.

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