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Day 6 - Analysis and Case Studies

I have analyzed some of the winners of the past Philippine Webby Awards just to find out what factors these Web Awards groups are looking for in the design of a “good” Web site. Below is a tabulation of the winners of the 3rd Philippine Webby Awards and some of the most popular Web sites today.
 
Website File size of the home page Number of graphics and external files Screen size

Webby Awards Winners

Click the City 92KB 20 800 x 600
HerbVigor.com 166KB 45 800 x 600
PinoyCentral 138KB 20 Automatic
Voodoo Cycles 57KB 33 Automatic
Recto.net 117KB 39 800 x 600
       

Popular Web sites

Amazon.com 94KB 40 Automatic
AOL.com 85KB 41 640 x 480
Google.com 11KB 1 Automatic
Microsoft.com 89KB 14 Automatic
Yahoo.com 10KB 3 800 x 600

Definition of terms
File size of the home page – It is the total file size of the Web site’s home page, which includes the graphics and other external files. This is an indication of how fast or slow a Web site will load. The larger the file size, the slower the Web site .

Number of graphics and external files – This is the number of files that is included in the home page. Normally this is the number of graphic images used on the home page. External files may include style sheet documents and JavaScript files. This is also an indication of how fast or slow a Web site will load. The more images, the slower the Web site.

Screen size – This refers to the screen size setting of a viewers’ monitor. For example, if the screen size is 640 x 480, this means that the Web site completely fits in a 640 x 480 screen resolution without having the need to scroll horizontally. If the screen size is 800 x 600, this means that the Web site fits in a n 800 x 600 screen resolution, but will require viewers with a 640 x 480 setting to scroll horizontally. Automatic indicates the Web site adjusts its page layout to fit both settings. This is a measure of a Web site’s usability, as horizontal scrolling is very inconvenient to the viewers.

Findings
Looking at the winners of the Web Awards, the average file size of the home page is 114KB and uses an average of 31 graphic images. Most of the Web sites were also designed for an 800 x 600 screen setting.

As a comparison, the popular Web sites have an average file size of 58KB and uses an average of 20 graphic images. Most of the Web sites were designed to work well in both 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 screen settings.

From the results we can clearly see that the Web sites that have won Web Awards lean towards the aesthetics aspect of Web design rather than focusing on usability. The big file size, lots of graphic images, and designing for a specific screen setting will result in a slow Web site which is also difficult for those with a 640 x 480 screen setting to use.

For the popular Web sites, we can see that the focus is more on usability while still trying to present an aesthetically pleasing to look at Web site. The average file size is only half the value of the Web Award winners, meaning the popular Web sites will load twice as fast as the Web Award winner. The popular Web sites are also designed to look well in both 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 screen resolution, making the Web site easy to use for all viewers.

So which design philosophy is correct? Personally if your goal is to win Web Awards, then it seems that you should design an aesthetically good looking Web site at the expense of usability. The Web site will look good, but will be slow and difficult to use for some viewers. But if your goal is to sell products or services, then we should look at the Web sites that succeed in this goal. Amazon is the leader when it comes to selling products, Yahoo is the most popular search directory, AOL has millions of users, and Microsoft, the most successful software company today. What do their Web sites have in common? As we have seen, they all focus on usability. The all have fast and easy to use Web sites.

     Copyright© 2002 Joel Mangilit  :  (632) 522-6912  :  (0917) 539-0450  :  joel@webphil.com  :  www.webphil.com