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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