About the clutter test

A cluttered Web page is one that looks too busy or confusing. It presents too many elements or features that compete for the user's attention. The clutter test provides an objective measure of clutter.

Strive for less than 50% clutter. The user has to start thinking too hard once it goes beyond 50%.

The clutter test provides a definitive measurement of clutter and it provides a benchmark for comparative analysis.

Clutter test league table

What is a reasonable amount of clutter?

Checklist for too much clutter

How the clutter test works

Clutter test league table

Home pages

google.com 16%

websitecriteria.com 19%

optus.com.au 29%

bmw.com.au 28%

facebook.com 33%

virgin.com 38%

moma.org 46%

hp.com 50%

microsoft.com 52%

useit.com 56%

youtube.com 57%

adelaide.edu.au 61%

rsvp.com.au 65%

etsautilities.com.au 68%

w3c.org 72%

telstra.com.au 76%

theaustralian.com.au 84%

yahoo.com 86%

top of page

What’s a reasonable amount of clutter?

At which end of the clutter spectrum should your Web pages be?
Aligned to Google at 16% clutter or Yahoo at 86% clutter?

If in doubt, embrace the notion that no one ever complained that a website was too easy to use.

Keep it simple seems to work almost every time. So reducing clutter is generally a good idea.

Our focus group testing indicates that Web page clutter should be below 50%.

Some pages can go well beyond 50% clutter without adversely affecting the user's experience. Whether it is too cluttered or not may depend on the age of the audience, their expectations and the nature of the content. A page of an entertainment site with 80% clutter may not be too cluttered for its intended audience of young people. Yet it is not true that younger audiences are always tolerant of clutter. Even if you apply the clutter checklist below it may be necessary to test the page with the intended audience.

top of page

Checklist for too much clutter

A Web page is too cluttered if:

  • users regularly ignore the most important things on the page
  • users regularly ignore instructions on the screen
  • users do not click on important features or links
  • users leave the page more quickly than other pages
  • user feedback is negative and they describe it as frustrating, confusing or too busy
  • the page has more clutter than equivalent Web pages of your successful competitors


top of page

How the clutter test works

When you enter a Web page address into the clutter test, a copy of the web page is made on a dedicated server and the calculation begins. The algorithm then performs its magic. For obvious reasons, we can’t reveal the algorithm or how it works. The percentage of clutter and free space is calculated and sent back to the website. You then see the percentage.

A copy of every screen tested for clutter is saved on our server for research purposes only.

We perform testing on the clutter test to ensure it is stable and calibrated accurately.

Contact us if you you have any queries or suggestions for improving the test.

top of page