I want you to try finding the US population by going through the US Census Bureau website.

Did you find it? According to a recent study by Jakob Nielsen, only 14% of users could find it, even though it is big and red at the top of the page. (check the study to see a screenshot of the original image in case the website changed). Quite surprising no?

The problem is that it looks like an ad and most people are banner blind. The problem here is that it is in a sidebar with big red text, images and made-up term like “population clock”, traits people associate with an ad.

Even more interesting is to look at the heat map, showing where the user’s eyes stopped. In this case, the user clearly looked at the zone where the answer is, but quickly moved on.

Usability is an interesting beast. Results like this clearly show that you can’t take anything for granted and you need to test with real users.

Popularity: 5% [?]


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