Browser Size is a handy web developer’s tool released by Google Labs last year to take the guesswork of the website visibility of users with different screen resolutions. We give you a quick rundown on how the Google Browser Size tool can help improve your hotel website design.
Browser Size is based on a sample of data from visitors to Google.com. Using the tool is very simple. Visit www.browsersize.googlelabs.com and enter the URL of a page you want to examine like www.hotelwebsitedesigners.com and the site will load your webpage in the background.
It will then overlay a semi-transparent graphic depicting how much of the web’s population can view each section of your page without scrolling. This is commonly called the ‘fold’ in web design circles. For a given point in the browser, the tool will tell you what percentage of users can see it.
For example, 95% of users can see the ‘Hotel Web Designers’ and ‘About Us tab on the left hand side of the Hotel Website Designers website. If an important tab is in the 80% region it means that 20% of users have to scroll in order to see it.
A few years ago, the most common monitor size was 15″ with a default screen resolution of 800×600. Currently, the standard is 17″ monitors with a screen resolution of 1024×768, though this is growing rapidly.
The fold is an old newspaper term used by graphic designers that refers to newspaper design where the more important content is displayed on the upper half of the front page of a newspaper when the newspaper is ‘folded’ into two.
One issue web designers constantly face is ensuring that they keep their important content “above the fold” — you don’t want users to have to scroll down to see the most important information or a call to action.
Some would argue that the fold does not affect useability and users are happy to scroll vertically down the page. It’s scrolling horizontally that some users may become unstuck. Web professionals cxpartners conducted 800 user sessions and on only 3 occasions have seen the page fold as a barrier to users getting to the content they want.
Based on these focus groups, they are brazen enough to suggest that less content above the fold may encourage more exploration below the fold.
Useability expert Jacob Nielson says there’s plenty of empirical evidence that users sometimes scroll and sometimes don’t. But the key point is that the decision as to whether to reveal more logically has to be made before the user takes the step to view the additional parts of the page.
Through his eyetracking study conducted in 2006, he says that users view websites in an ‘F’ pattern and that evidence suggests that readers do scroll but only if the initially-viewable part of the page has provided enough sufficient information to convince the user to take this step.
The fold will vary for different users and the Browser Size tool can help you identify the fold for different screen resolutions. By understanding what percentage of people can see your on page elements without scrolling down past the fold, you can make important decisions on where to place important content based on this information.
You can also use Browser Size to redesign your page to minimise scrolling and make sure that the important parts of the page are always prominent to your audience and give them enough incentive to scroll down if needed.
Through their analysis of screen resolutions and using the Browser Size tool, Google says that it found that the install rate for Google Earth increased by a whopping 10% simply by moving it 100 pixels higher on the page. Could you achieve the same results for your website?
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