Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Google Research Validates Hacker Newspaper Design

Backstory: My miniapp Hacker Newspaper reformats Hacker News to read more like a newspaper, because newspapers spent hundreds of years honing their graphic design, and HN's design is primitive by comparison.

New research from Google validates this approach. Notice how the fifth most popular story on Hacker News in this example, a story about sorting algorithms, appears near the bottom of the page in Hacker Newspaper, in the fifth most visually highlighted format, as opposed to fifth from the top, in a format identical to all the other links, as it does in Hacker News.

Greg Linden blogged about this research:

I love the fact, noted in the paper, that people tend to click on the last result much more than you would expect. The reason is that people don't linearly scan down a page, but often jump to the bottom and focus attention there. A decade ago at Amazon, the personalization team exploited this effect and seized the space at the bottom of most pages on the site for our features. You see, when we saw no one had built tools to track click and conversion data, we built them, and then we used them. No one else realized the value of the space at the bottom of the page, but we did.

You can grab the PDF here: Beyond Position Bias: Examining Result Attractiveness as a Source of Presentation Bias in Clickthrough Data