How real users view your web site

I’m running some remote usability tests this week where I ask participants to share their desktop with me. I’m viewing the tests on a 30″ Apple Cinema Display and it’s easy to forget the lower-spec hardware that many users still struggle with day-to-day. Here’s a screenshot from one participant: you’ll notice:

  • Users install lots of crap in their browser (either deliberately or inadvertantly).
  • The browser chrome and toolbars take up over a third of the display.
  • When viewing the results of a Google search, just one natural search result appears above the fold.

I’m not saying that this configuration is typcial, but it’s certainly not unusual to find this when you look at the way “real” users use the web, rather than the digerati.