Sep 15, 2004

Web Viewer Eye Movements...

Meryl Evans has posted an her comments on a recent study called Eyetrack III. This study evaluated the eye movements of a number of people on various web sites to see the areas of a web page that are most valuable and the styles that are most eye-catching.

Some of the results are a little surprising, such as smaller fonts in short paragraphs encourage reading instead of skimming. The article also mentions how users spend more time on text-based advertisements than on graphical advertisements; I would think this is natural, since your brain can evaluate the page very quickly and identify graphical advertisements faster than textual advertisements, and so we probably need to look at text advertisements longer to process that it is an advertisement.

While the old saying states that a picture is worth a thousand words, it is interesting to note that this particular article states that graphical representations are better to clarify concepts that readers do not understand, whereas data is more likely to be absorbed when read.

The analysis on the web site hot spots was interesting, but this also seems that this is our instinct. In addition to the fact that many languages are read from left to right and top to bottom, most web sites are also setup in this fashion, and while some of these sites may have done their own usability studies, I am sure that a good portion of this is applying a similar look-and-feel used on other web sites, since introducing a completely new interface could discourage some users from using the service.

While this information is important and very interesting, I whole hearted agree with Meryl's comments on her blog, which essentially is use the above as an influence, not a rule. Even in the articles preface, the surveyors indicate that the study was “wide” instead of deep, but nevertheless, I think it is worth a read.

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