Check out these couple links before proceeding:
For those that skipped right past the above links, to summarize: a couple lads at Google, in their 20% time, have created a system that tracked the browser window size (note: not the monitor size, but the actual visible, usable real estate the website had to play with, no toolbars, scrollbars, or status bars, just what’s available to the designer for their audience to consume). The articles don’t explicitly state which site they tracked to collect this data, but since the problem was introduced by a Google Earth team member, it was likely the Google Earth website. The collected data was then compiled into a statistical image mapping what percentage of the tracked page was visible to what percentage of their audience, thus telling their designers which parts of the website were most viewed.
So, pretty interesting tool, and honestly, more interesting to me was the technology they created ( had to get under the hood and see how Bruno and Arthur were doing this (
<iframe>s and auto-adjusting
<div>s, pretty cool!))…
Ok, now, back to the title of this post: What Does it Really Tell You?
Well, it definitely tells you how big people’s browser windows are for (whatever-site-the-authors-used), and it was most likely a left-justified fixed-width site, not centered and/or fluid. Some commenters pointed to this as a weakness, and, yes, it sort of is, but I find if you resize your browser window to match the maximum width of their overlay, it gives you a pretty good idea of what Google Earth viewers would see if they visited your website.
What I found a little bit sillier is that they have the overlay image set to repeat, so if you open your browser really wide, the top-right corner becomes really good real estate again! :-)
So, I guess I would say this is a really useful tool if you want to judge your website’s design against the visitors of Google earth’s website, but until this becomes available as a tool we can each use on our own sites (which I completely see happening), it is good technology, but not all that useful to most of us.
But thanks Google guys and gals, I sure wish I had the play time you all have…