APR: UI Platform Research


One of the elements of design we need to consider for our agile project is the interface that our users will be using. We need a way to survey our users to get this data. We are using the data from visitors to Tyner Blain as a presumably representative sample of the users of the new ratings site. This user group is defined in our vision document as “people in our niche.”

Most of the articles in this series (and offline conversations) are being used to gain qualitative feedback. We will combine this qualitative understanding with easily gathered quantitative data.

In this article, we look at some of the statistics gathered from just under 30,000 visitors since the first of the year.

All of the stats mentioned in the rest of this article reflect usage from 1 Jan 2007 to 25 Jan 2007 – 27,695 visits as reported by Google Analytics. All of the data referenced here is gathered from that stats tool (under Content Optimization : Web Design Parameters).


One factor that often drives design constraints is the browser that people will use. Different browsers implement “standards” differently, which can influence how CSS is rendered or other implementation details. These differences can even make one design more expensive to implement than another, due to the need to create workarounds. We therefore need to define the characteristics of the supported platforms.

Top Browsers

  1. 58% Internet Explorer (66% IE6, 33% IE7)
  2. 38% Firefox (70% 2.0.X, 26% 1.5.X)
  3. 2% Opera
  4. 1% Safari
  5. <1% All Others

Operating System

The user’s operating system is not obviously driving constraints for the initial release, but may for future functionality.

Top Operating Systems

  1. 93% Microsoft Windows (88% XP, 7% Win2K, 3% Vista, 1% Server 2003)
  2. 4% Macintosh (54% Intel, 46% Power PC) [Note – here is the distribution in the last week (62% Intel, 38% Power PC)]
  3. 2% Linux
  4. <1% Other

Screen Resolution

This is the factor that has the most influence on early design decisions – how much screen real estate do people have? This also tells us about the common aspect ratios, and lets us know if a fluid design (stretching to fill the various screens) would be of benefit versus a fixed-width design. A fixed width design would leave empty space along the sides for viewers with wider-than-target screens.

All measurements are in pixels.

Top Screen Sizes

  1. 39% 1024×768
  2. 22% 1280×1024
  3. 9% 1280×800
  4. 7% 1400×1050
  5. 3% Under 1024×768
  6. 20% Many different widescreen resolutions


What is the native language of the browser? Note – this is not the native language of the user – we can only get browser settings. But it is the best data we have.

Top Language Data

  1. 88% English
  2. 3% Spanish
  3. 2% German
  4. 1% Czech
  5. 1% French
  6. 1% Dutch
  7. 1% Portugese
  8. <1% each for 50 other languages

Dynamic UI Support

AJAX can provide for a much improved user experience over straight HTML, if our users have it. Flash is another option to achieve similar user benefits.

Over 98% of Tyner Blain readers have java support, under 2% do not (or have disabled it for our site). 97% of Tyner Blain readers have some version of flash support (almost 70% with version 9.0).

Just under 7% of Tyner Blain readers are running at dialup speeds

9 thoughts on “APR: UI Platform Research

  1. Huh, I have to access the site with my Mac running Safari more often in order to be serviced ;-)
    Anyway, extremely good data to make design decisions. Can you find out how long people stay at the Tyner Blain site? Or how many interactions (rating, following internal links, voting, …) the do?

  2. :)

    Thanks! And yes, I have absurd amounts of data on how people behave at Tyner Blain, including length of visit, frequency of visit, page views per visit, etc. Google analytics even lets me cross-reference different data elements (think of an OLAP cube, but with only a limited set of analyses available).

    I excluded all of the stuff that I thought was more germaine to Tyner Blain, and just focused on user stats. On rating of articles (here) for example, there have been 549 ratings since Jan 17th. A paltry percentage of people rate the articles – probably because I don’t promote it too much, and partly because people just want to read. There are no “show me the top rated articles” links yet – I want to get at least 2x or 3x the # of ratings versus the # of articles first.

    Data is fun. For example, 804 people visited the site from Google organic search results. Of those 804 visits, only 565 had never been to Tyner Blain before – the rest had been here before. The first time visitors average 2.78 page views per visit. The “return customers” average 6.1 page views per visit. For all visitors in April, we average just over 3 page views per visit. I don’t know who submits ratings, etc – but I think I know how to rewrite that plugin to make Google Analytics aware of it. I might do that after launching the APR. Same for poll responses, but probably harder (and a much much smaller data set).

  3. Oh – in another comment thread, you mentioned accessing the site on your phone. Definitely not a priority interface yet – but what a cool thing to be able to do.

    One nice thing about being the “product dictator” is I get to mandate that we include that cool stuff. The cool thing about being a “product manager” is that I know I need to wait and do other stuff first.

  4. :-D
    Phones have HTML-browsers nowadays. The only downside (apart from the tiny display) are websites which consume a lot of bandwidth.

    Ratings: I guesS only few people rate Tyner Blain articles because there is but one use of it: saying that they like what you have done. Something for your soul.

  5. *lol*
    Phones have HTML-browsers nowadays. The only downside (apart from the tiny display) are websites which consume a lot of bandwidth.

    Ratings: I guess only few people rate Tyner Blain articles because there is but one use of it: saying that they like what you have done. Something for your soul. Take each star as a nice little stroke ;-)

  6. Sorry about the dupe comments above. Rolf got snagged by our spam filter again.

    As much as I like the ego strokes – if y’all can get the number of ratings up to 2X the number of articles, I’ll add a “top rated articles” page to the site. I don’t rate the articles myself, so this is up to you.

  7. Good stats to help guide your designs – I think you always need to apply an extra filter when it comes to these kind of stats and Macs though. If you just look at the numbers, you might conclude that Mac support shouldn’t be high on your priority list since you have such a small number of users using it. However, you need to think about the characteristics of those users. Mac users tend to be very vocal, and lots of tech bloggers etc tend towards Macs, and you definitely want to stay on their good side in terms of reviews of your new site :)

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