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Fix your website with four awesome insights from eye tracking research

Fix your website with four awesome insights from eye tracking research
We've looked into a few surveys around eye tracking, the movement of a reader's eyes as they process the information contained on a given webpage, and here are the results.

Published: 11 Dec, 2013

Fix your website with four awesome insights from eye tracking research

There's a science to everything - including user experience (UX) and we've been feeling kind of scientific lately.

For all the best practices (like front loading content and writing simple to read sentences), there's nothing quite like a little empirical data to help you design your websites.

Eye tracking tells us where their eyes wander, and where they linger. And that's information worth its weight in gold.

Here are four surprising facts we've learned about eye tracking.

1. The headline is where the money's at

Eyetrack III (warning, large PDF download) showed that the headline is more important than flashy images. According the research, an eye-catching headline is the most viewed element of any webpage, quite conclusively.

The participants usually viewed the headline before scanning over anything else with their eyes.

This begs the question: are you spending more time on fancy images or eye-catching headlines?

2. Make sure your content is consumable

One of the more interesting bits of information the research reveals involves the presentation of text on webpages.

What the research shows is that we like to read shorter, punchier sentences in excerpts, but (contrary to popular belief), like to see longer passages in the body of the article.

In a nutshell, short and punchy bits draw readers in, but by the time they've read past the first paragraph, they are ready for substance.

That's interesting to note, because we all already know about front-loaded content, but we now know, from the research, that the top of an article should be short and 'snackable', while the main paragraphs can be meatier, expanding on the basic concepts outlined in the first paragraph.

3. Advertisements are bad

The verdict of Nielsen Norman Group research is that advertisements are a waste of time; banner blindness is a fact of life online.

People tend to overlook or flatly ignore all ads, trying instead to hone in on the "meat" of the content. Why have ads when no one looks at them?

Great content, according to the study, is more effective at driving conversion than ads.

4. An "F" that doesn't fail

The same Nielsen Norman Group study tells us exactly how readers' eyes initially move across the page. Their eyes carve out an "F." The reader typically begins with a horizontal movement across the top of a page, thus making the top of the F. The readers' eyes then move a bit further down the page and complete another horizontal scan movement, making the middle line of the F.

The last thing the reader tends to do is to scan the left side of the page from top to bottom, finally completing the F.

Now, since we know that you've just double-checked your website to see if it fits the format, what did you find?

How does your website measure up?

The studies mentioned above are worth reading in full. We learned a thing or two from them, and added new dimensions to what we already knew on top of that.

If you want to enhance the UX of your site, the eye tracking research results can help you make choices that will have an effect on how well your message is received - and getting your message across is the nature of the game these days.

How does your website measure up to the criteria established in the eye tracking research?