Monday, April 20, 2009

Finger method of judging graphic design

Katie Cunningham mentioned this in her blog post today. Since I was asked what that was meant by several people I decided to write it up so you can see one of my rants.

The method is simple:
  • Put your design on a screen.
  • Your hand goes on the screen with fingers horizontal. Ignore the thumb.
  • Count how many fingers it takes from the top of the screen to content. If you run out of fingers on one hand that means your wonderful design is going to force users to scroll to content. Maybe not on your huge desktop monitor, but on the sort of desktop monitor or laptop that has become ubiquitous, absolutely!
  • I have tiny hands for a guy. So for you people with big hands, try it with two or three fingers.
Now lets take a look at how the Python community matches up to my finger method.
So the Python community does pretty well on average. So does Facebook, Twitter, and the other good social networking sites. Now think about the sites that never went anywhere and how my finger method applies.

How about some some abject failures from outside the python community?
Is this scientific? Heck no. Yet it is a quick and cheap gauge as to why you rarely get repeat visits to your site or why they only visit your download pages.


Danny said...

It takes me five fingers to get to the first sentence of content on your site, including the google blogger stuff at the top.

pydanny said...


I agree, it is a problem. My blog will be moved/fixed shortly.

Mark said...

Content "below the fold" is not the cardinal sin that it used to be. People know how to scroll and don't mind doing it to get to content on a site that looks interesting to them. See Blasting the Myth of the Fold.

That said, I agree that navigation should never be "below the fold." I like your finger test.

pydanny said...

@Mark, if every time I visit new content on a page of a site I have to scroll to content, then I'll get tired of the site very quickly.

Of course, on some sites the design is the content. Apple's site, of which I was critical, is actually selling the big image you see.

Brian Peppler said...

Great link Mark. More information and results from a "below the fold" study can be found at