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Eye Tracking Study – Web Design for Conversion

Website Conversion August 1st, 2007

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Like me, if you happen to be in internet marketing industry (IM), these are exciting times.  Internet marketing is poised for a major leap forward. (See Web 2.0) The hubbub is not only about $ 13.5 billion that IM can rake this year alone but qualitatively what it can deliver to clients.  A sudden availability of internet tools promises to bring industry from the realm of approximations to results that can be verified easily by a website owner.  (Hello Google Analytics!)

Close on the heels of Google’s free offering Web Analytics 2.0 (WA 2.0); we can now see the results of Eyetrack III.  If Web Analytics 2.0 put within our easy reach important website metrics, Eyetrack III attempts to better understand the reading behavior and elements readers find attractive on a webpage.

Though Poynter.org conducted this study deeply concerned with falling news readership and shorter attention spans, it provides valuable insights for any Internet marketing firm.  So what did the ET III reveal about the eye scan patterns, to help us greatly in designing conversion friendly websites.

While testing participants' eye movements across several homepage designs, a common pattern was noticed: The eyes most often fixated first in the upper left of the page, then hovered in that area before going left to right. Only after perusing the top portion of the page for some time did their eyes explore further down the page.

Another interesting pattern emerged contrary what many would expect.  Photographs and website images, (as we might expect) was not the biggest factor keeping people on the website — it was website copy! Text rules on the computer screen — both in order viewed and total time spent looking at it. Dominant headlines consistently kept users engaged especially when they were on the left side of the page. Visitor’s instinctively gaze in on any logo or dominant headline that was displayed on the left side.

The graph below shows the zones of importance on a webpage. How does your website design measure up?


Since text rules on-screen it made sense to explore the textual vein further.  Here is a bulleted list of important to do’s based on my research:
 

  •  Smaller type text encouraged focused viewing behavior and large type promoted scanning.
     
  •  Longer paragraph format discourages viewing. Shorter paragraph received twice as many eyes fixation as those with longer paragraphs. The longer paragraph format seems to discourage viewing.
     
  •  Visual breaks in text discouraged people from looking at items beyond breaks.
     
  •  People don’t view entire headlines. Only if the first words engages them. (Below is heat map of how visitors viewed headlines) 
  •  A headline has less then one second to get the website visitor’s attention.
     
  •  People most often scan below the first fold on the homepage for a much shorter duration looking for something to grab their attention.

Describing how images were viewed the study restated things that we already knew and also some interesting observations:
 

  •  The most obvious one. The bigger the image the more time people took to look at it.
     
  •  Clean & clear faces in images attract more eye fixations on home pages
     
  •  A very interesting point: people often click on images even though it took them nowhere.
     
  •  Visitors correctly recalled facts, names & places when presented in text format, but conceptual information was more accurately received in multimedia.

Recommendations:
 

  •  Make sure the most important information (your call to action) on the website is in the top left of the page.
     
  •  Make sure you use a strongly worded and relevant headline.
     
  •  Use faces in your imagery as they are looked at twice more then images with no faces.
     
  •  Make sure you use short paragraphs in your website copy as it is far more likely to be read.
     
  •  People read text that is smaller while bigger text is scanned.
     
  •  Make sure all your images click thru to a relevant page because people will try to click on your web design graphics.

Post By Nitin Joseph (9 Posts)

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