The Need for Web Design Standards (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox): "Interestingly, despite investigating two different subfields of Web design, the two studies came up with almost identical numbers. I'm thus only reporting the average of the two sets of numbers here.

Following are the extent to which websites have standardized on the fifty-seven design approaches studied:

Standard: 37% of design elements were done the same way by at least four-fifths of the sites. Standard design elements included:

A logo in the upper left corner of the page

A search box on the homepage

An absence of splash pages

Breadcrumbs listed horizontally (when they were used)

Convention: 40% of design elements were done the same way by at least half the sites (but less than four-fifths of the sites). Conventional design elements included:

Using the label 'site map' for the site map (which is recommended from user research on site map usability)

Changing the color of visited links (recommended to help navigation)

Placing the shopping cart link in the upper right corner of page

Placing links to sibling areas (neighboring topics at the same information architecture level as the current location) in the left-hand column

Confusion: 23% of design elements were done in so many ways that no single approach dominated. Confusion reigned in several areas, including:

The main navigation schemes, which included left-hand menu, tabs across the top, navbar across the top, Yahoo-style directory in the middle, and so on

Placement of the search feature, which included upper right, upper left, middle, and elsewhere on the page

The sign-in process

Placement of Help "

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