Improve your UX design by tracking the eye movements of your users

What exactly is eye tracking? How can he improve UX design? And should you use it? Keep reading to find out!

What is eye tracking?

As the name suggests, eye tracking records eye movements and lets you see where users are looking on the screen and what is catching (or escaping) their attention. It can be used to track eye movements on videos, static ads, and websites. Knowing this information lets you know if your users are noticing your key messages and call-to-action buttons, as well as other key UI elements. Plus, technology not only tells you where users are looking, but also how long they are looking for. It gives you a great understanding of what really catches their attention and what is overlooked.
The areas on which users’ eyes are focused are called “fixations”. Eye-tracking also shows us when users’ eyes are moving and things are missing, these are called “jerks”. If a key element that you want users to review is in a jerk, a UX consultant can make suggestions for improvements based on eye-tracking data.

Heat maps

We perform qualitative eye-tracking tests where the recordings are manually reviewed by our UX consultants, we also produce heatmaps (see below) which are a visual way to present the results. We like to run the tests with at least 30 participants, this allows us to get enough valuable data and remove any outliers from the results. The heat map is a very useful way to visualize the data, the areas in green are where some users have looked, while the red areas are where most bindings have occurred. This clearly shows what is getting the most attention and what areas are missing.

Heatmaps can be presented for one participant or as an amalgamation of all participants. In addition to heat maps, there are also gaze maps, these show the order in which users look at different items and identify if the items have been examined multiple times.

UX troubleshooting

Eye-tracking results show How? ‘Or’ What users use the product but not Why. Based on the data produced, a UX consultant will be able to see why an area has had a lot or very few bindings. An area that has received a lot of fixings could be for positive or negative reasons. For example, is it because it had a catchy title? Or is it because it didn’t work as expected and is acting like a problem for the user? A UX consultant will be able to analyze usability testing data and records to identify any issues for the user in the process.

This can be a very powerful tool in finding out why you are missing out on key conversions. You can have a button on your website that no one clicks on. Is it because they are not interested in the above text? Or because it was not in the path of their gaze? Eye-tracking shows exactly where the user is looking. It can also be combined with cursor movements so you can see where they looked and if they then clicked to go further on the journey.

A / B tests

Eye tracking can be a great tool if you want to experiment with different ideas. For example, you could have two different versions of a landing page or static graphic, and experiment with different font sizes, terminology, colors, etc. to see what caught users’ attention the most. If you pair eye tracking with facial expression software, you can see not only what they looked at, but also the feelings the visuals evoked. These scientific methods take the guesswork out of the best method for your next website, advertisement, etc. and give you a much better chance of success.

Areas of Interest (AOI)

In addition to heat maps, AOIs may also be presented to you. These are handy blocks of information that tell you what percentage of users watched a specific item (e.g. a button), on average for how long, how many bindings they had in that region, on average for how long it took them to see this item, and much more! It provides a lot of data and can be applied to different elements of your website, video etc.

Thing to consider

Eye-tracking is the closest thing to viewing your product through the eyes of your users. However, like all great things in life, it takes time, and with that, you need a budget for the project. The first part of the project is knowing what you actually want to test. Is this a landing page that is not converting well? Or are you launching a new product and want to see how attractive your color choices are? Eye-tracking tests need clear goals to get the most out of them.

Once the test environment is set up, you should also consider the cost of finding and paying participants. Finally, data analysis requires a trained professional to go through the data and footage to determine why people have fixations in some areas and not in others, and then offer suggestions for improvement. So while eye tracking is a great testing method, you need to make sure that you have the budget for it. There are also other more cost-effective avenues, such as A / B testing or standard usability testing.

Key points to remember

Eye-tracking is an excellent way to test your product, through it you can:

  • See if participants are missing key UI components
  • Find out if there are elements on your website that distract users from call-to-action buttons.
  • Identify if there are any pain points in the trip causing a lot of bindings.
  • Find out what content users are reading and not reading.
  • Find out how long it takes users to see different items.
  • See how long users watch different items.
  • Identify if there are items that users are looking at but not clicking.

Overall, eye tracking gives you invaluable data that other traditional UX methods can’t. If you’re already doing observations, user interviews, surveys, and A / B testing, eye-tracking can be a big step forward.

If you want to better understand how biometrics and UX can be used to improve your digital strategy, contact us. You can also check out our free guide to biometric testing for digital marketing.

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