Nothing gets our motors running more than shiny new tech, so we’re really excited to bring you a new service designed to complement our current usability testing and consultancy services: eye-tracking studies.
Providing invaluable insights into the usability of your website, an eye-tracking study can shine a light on a multitude of issues and opportunities to improve both the effectiveness of your website, as well as the experience of your users.
You can read more about what eye-tracking studies are and how they work here. However, we thought we’d take a little look at how they can be used in practice to inform decisions on web design - from colours to images and layout...
One of the most exciting parts of a website build is the design stage. But if you’ve ever been a part of those lengthy initial meetings before a new project commences, you’ll know how divided opinions can be when it comes to subjective elements such images, colours and layouts.
An eye-tracking study can take away the issue of subjectivity and provide some much-needed background to aesthetic decisions, enabling you to narrow down design options to those that will help you achieve your website goals.
Before deciding on a final concept, an eye-tracking study can be used to compare even the slightest variations on design, simply by tracking the gaze of a participant (web user) as they browse your website or app.
You’ll then be able to identify the design aspects that direct users toward your call-to-action as well as those that pull attention away from them or disrupt their journey to conversion.
Easyjet’s BOB or ‘Big Orange Button’ is a great example of how colour can effect usability. This unmistakable bright orange, set against a contrasting background, is widely regarded as a ‘safety colour’ that encourages more urgent decision-making: perfect for time-sensitive actions such as booking a flight:
It works fantastically well in directing a user’s attention to those all important ‘Book’ buttons.
But re-imagine the website with a light grey or a pale blue call-to-action button instead. The result would be much less enticing. An eye-tracking study would highlight this - documenting how quickly a user’s eye is draw to each button and where their gaze wanders next.
In stark contrast to Easyjet’s site, the example below, dubbed “the world’s worst website” (we’re not being mean, this site was created to showcase bad design!), demonstrates how the over-use of colour does nothing but confuse and dazzle a user: pulling their attention from one side to another and offering no clear direction or call to action.
By commissioning an eye-tracking study before you settle on a colour scheme for your website, you can be confident in choosing the ‘best’ and worst colours for conversion - based on science and not on personal taste.
When it comes to images, research shows that photos of people can be highly effective in converting web visitors, particularly if the expression on the subject’s face reflects the marketing message.
Eye-tracking research builds upon this theory and demonstrates how the gaze of a subject’s eyes can also be used strategically to direct users toward important aspects of a website, such as a call-to-action or a persuasive marketing message:
The heat-maps generated by the eye-tracking study above show a clear difference in the focus of attention when the model’s eyes look forward, as in the first picture, and when they look toward the product being advertised, as in the second.
Sidebar on the left or sidebar on the right? Ask ten people around a room which side they prefer and of course you’ll get some conflicting answers. But sign the same people up for an eye-tracking study; watch in real time where their gaze immediately drifts; and you’ll know for sure which side of the screen they naturally gravitate towards when searching for information.
You may even find that this is the opposite side to the one they ‘chose’ when first asked. This is because they would have had to make a conscious decision as to which side they preferred: but it’s their subconscious reactions that give their true preferences away.
This is where the real power of eye-tracking studies lies - in the subconscious interactions of a web user. It’s those fleeting glances, momentary lapses, long pauses and ‘barely there’ reactions to visual stimuli that give web designers unparalleled insights into how a user browses their site.
Without eye-tracking technology, usability testing and the like, designers and developers are forced to make a number of assumptions - and we all know what the proverb says about those…
Don’t make an ‘ass’ of your next web design project. Talk to us about eye-tracking studies that will help you make the right design decisions.