Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Friday, December 18, 2009

Google BrowserSize - Making it easier to see how others view your website

Last night Google announced on their Blog the launch of Google BrowserSize which was developed as a "20% time" project my employees of Google and has now been publicly launched in GoogleLabs.

The idea behind Google BrowserSize is quite simple, and reflects the importance of having the most important text on your webpage at the top-left hand corner.

Using a sample of browsers sizes from real users of, Google BrowserSize overlays onto your website a series of coloured zones to show what percentage of users would be able to see that part of your website.

So if for instance you've got some important text or action button that's part way down the page or across to the right hand side then you can see just how many users would have to scroll their browser to see the 'important' bit. Obviously most people will read and act upon the text immediately in front of them when they view your website so if you're relying on them having to scroll to read and act upon your website then you're going to lose impact and potentially of course loose customers.

Here's how BrowserSize looks on my own rental holiday cottage website:

lines it enables you to graphically see representation of how many different web your website looks when viewed as seen through Google BrowserSize

One of the things that is immediately apparent is that because of all the hard work I put in when redesigning the website back in 2006 to ensure that the text automatically flows out to fill the full browser width, it means that even with quite small browser widths (e.g. set to 900 pixels to match a 90% browser coverage of actual Google users) the page is still quite readable.

And in the other direction, with the page width set to the same 900px, I can see that a good half of the navigation menu is straight away visible for everyone (i.e. in the '99%' zone), and the remaining navigation items ('Contact Us', 'Site Map', 'GuestBook Comments', etc) are in the 98-90% zone - i.e. 9 out of 10 people can see the whole navigation menu without having to scroll the browser at all.

And in the middle of the screen I've got my "Stop Press" late breaking news box, and then the main introduction to the holiday Gite starts.

So all in all I'm pretty happy with the results, shows that most of the time the key information I want people to see is visible without requiring scrolling.

But what this has got me thinking though is that I ought to resequence some of the menu navigation items to promote a few of the more important ones up higher on the page. 'Contact Us' is currently in the 95% zone - meaning 5% of website visitors would have to scroll to see it - and I can easily move this up and move 'Rental Rates' down.

In conclusion, another useful WebMaster tool from Google.

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