Monday, November 06, 2006

100 Million Websites

The growth of the Web and resulting website design changes ...

"The early Web's explosive growth rate has slowed, but even the mature Web is still expanding and recently crossed the 100 M websites mark.
Netcraft's latest Web survey found 101,435,253 websites in November 2006. Not all of these sites are live: some are "parked" domains, while others are abandoned weblogs that haven't been updated in ages. But even if only half the sites are maintained, there are still more than 100 M sites that people pay to keep running.

Surpassing 100 M is a big milestone, and represents immense growth since the Web's founding 15 years ago.

The following chart plots the number of sites from 1991 to 2006. Note the use of a logarithmic scale, which is the only way to represent the Web's fast rate of change in its early years.

... Design Implications of Web Maturation
I remember 1994 -- the fastest growth period in the Web's history. That year, the Web went from 700 sites to 12,000 sites, for a one-year growth of 16,000%. In our weekly Web project team meetings, we always had something totally new to review that had been done on the Web for the first time ever that week.
Given the rate of change, there was no such thing as "the Web user experience" in 1994. Each time users went online, they encountered something new. Even so, the first Web usability patterns were already emerging in my late 1994 studies. As my new book documents, I've modified some of these 1990s guidelines in light of newer research, but many have held up.

The Web's rapid growth ended in 2001 and all the usability guidelines we've found since then have been repeatedly confirmed. Although Web usability isn't completely settled, newer work is aimed more at discovering additional insights than challenging "old" findings from 2001 and beyond.

At this point, the maturing Web has a well-defined user experience, and users have firm expectations for how a website should work. For example, all users have one specific mental model for search, and our eyetracking research confirms that users look at search results pages the same way -- even when sites deviate from the standard model.

This isn't to say that search can't be further improved. On the contrary, search has one of the lowest usability scores of all the Web's elements and there's much room for enhancing user performance. The point is simply that users' basic expectations have settled and you should design accordingly, unless you have something that's substantially better. A small improvement won't work if it requires an unconventional interaction style."    (Continued via Alertbox)    [Usability Resources]

Web Growth - Usability, User Interface Design

Web Growth

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