The Untapped Power of Design Galleries
There's a love-hate relationship that many designers have with design galleries like CSS Remix. They offer decent traffic when we get listed. Traffic hopefully leads to sales leads. Stuff we all like, of course. But we hate them for the (usually) useless comments and the voting that does a good job of narrowing down sites to a number between 3.0 and 3.5.
But there's an untapped source of data here. Thousands upon thousands of votes for a myriad of designs. Could more useful metrics be pulled out of this data? How do people tend to vote at various times of the day? Are they more likely to like a site during the day or at night? Which colour schemes tend to rate higher? Which window sizes rate better versus various site designs? Do IE users prefer the colour blue?
Capture as much data as you can from the user, cross reference it across a multitude of data points and I suspect you'd have some interesting information to look at.
I dont know that the data would be all that interesting to the end user, but certainly to a designer like you and me, the information would be of value. Maybe there is a spot here for a new kind of CSS Gallery.
Check this out:
Using CSS Galleries to get visitors
This is a dangerous idea, basically as the data you gather is in no way representational of your intended audience - unless you have products you want to sell to other web designers. It has as much census value as asking the fans of Metallica before one of their concerts if they think Metallica rocks.
It is especially dangerous in terms of data read out like screen resolution, plug-in availability and JS, as web designers or even people interested in CSS and design will have what you expect them to have whereas a standard user who just goes on the internet for research doesn't.
Mining data like this leads to tainted data, and I spent many an hour arguing with council web site owners that the stats of counter.com are not really representative of their intented audience.
@Chris: you raise an interesting point. Likewise, I don't believe that you can use the stats off your own site to base design decisions on as current audience isn't necessarily reflective of future audience. As they say, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
It'd still be interesting to see that kind of info. I'm a bit of a stats junkie and think that even some relevancy can be pulled out of it. I just wouldn't put my life on it.
I would tend to agree with Chris on this statement. Not only would the data be pretty skewed, but some of those galleries are littered with people who are just filled with negativity (or jealousy). Some people go there expecting to be blown away every time, and that isn't the point of the galleries - it is to showcase excellent design/code. So, the comments/votes on there are somewhat like the comments you see on digg - they tend to get off topic by people who don't know the topic in the first place.
I like the galleries, but I really don't see a big use out of the comments/ratings (for the most part). I am a stats junkie too, but I think there are just too many loopholes that won't lead to any type of solid foundation.
I have to admit, I'm something of a stats junkie as well. So regardless of the data's potential (in)validity, I think it would be interesting, at least for us designers/developers.
Those CSS gallery's do seem to be rather harsh though, on CSSRemix, I rarely see anything above a 4.0 (out of 5); proof to me that 'good' design is, for the most part, subjective.
I run a couple of galleries, and have left of user submitted ratings as it has no value.
Most of the people visiting the design galleries are getting started in design, or are looking for a designers for their project, so aren't really in a position to rate designs.
Sure you get a few experienced designers coming thru looking at the latest design trends, but the tend not to vote anyway.
I think much more useful would be a resource site with a gallery as a feature, such as the one I run at cssliquid.com. I even have a forum there which has been useful at times since users have been able to ask questions about fluid-width CSS design and I have been able to help them out.