Eye & Click Tracking Technology to Improve Web Design

Prior to reading this week’s material, I was familiar with eye-tracking research as applied to web design and SEO. The whole concept of working hard to get your website in the top Google search results is based on eye-tracking research that shows the majority of users only click on the first few results. So I had already seen the heat maps and related info from the Google Maps whitepaper.  Additionally, several best-practice principles of web design layout are derived from eye-tracking technology, which I’ve read the background information on.

It was interesting to read more in-depth about the research methodology of eye and click tracking. I always wondered how they actually tracked the clicks, and I like how Eye Tracking Technologies: An Introduction detailed a few technologies researchers use to track eyes and clicks. These studies are useful in understanding how to best design for and communicate with our audience. 

One recent application I’ve seen of eye tracking research is studying internet user engagement with advertising. This MediaPost.com article  explores how eye tracking research is being used to find which ads resonate with users, and how a new push in the online advertising industry is paying only for ads that were actually seen by the user, since many are not. 

“Viewability is nice, but viewability just means that an ad is within the viewable area of a screen,” notes Bander, adding: “It doesn’t mean a consumer is actually looking at your ad.”

Since I manage online advertising campaigns, I deal with different technologies we use to monitor the viewability of our ads and listen to vendors presentations that try to highlight how their product offers advanced viewability and interactivity features.

It’s interesting to think of what future applications we can apply eye and click tracking research to, since the research method has been around for 100 years and progressed with all the changes in communication in that time. 

Questions

  1. Can you reference any eye-tracking research that influences your work?
  2. Do you think you read information on a screen the way that research shows most people do? If not, how do you differ?
  3. The term “digital native” refers to someone who is among the first adults who don’t have strong recollection of life before digital. Do you think this population is disadvantaged in any way? (The advantage is clear.)
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4 thoughts on “Eye & Click Tracking Technology to Improve Web Design

  1. The media company I work for engages the services of research companies to improve upon site design and the layout of its printed-paper. We have gone through major revisions of our products along with constant updates and changes to improve usability and overall customer experience.

    The way I read online information varies by content. When it comes to photo galleries, images and short text, I’m more of an “intimate” reader, constantly in contact with the screen. However, if it’s a longer article or story, I revert to “print habits”, where I adjust the text for maximum reading and detach from my device.

  2. I am a full-time student so I do not have a job that does any eye-tracking. I would image that if I did have a job that used eye-tracking they might try to find out what the most popular portions of their or their clients website and social media sites are to see what people are drawn to.

    I do think that for the most part I read information like the studies showed. I tend to look at pictures and color as opposed to strictly text. I also to look at the length of articles and will select what I am going to read based on that and what information I am trying to gain from it.

    The “digital natives” I think do have a few disadvantages. Although I personally cannot imagine trying to navigate without a GPS since they have been around since I was able to drive, or being able to call my friend when I want to catch up. I think that being so reliant on digital technology detaches people from some of the more intimate contacts. It is easier and less time consuming for someone to just write a message on your social media page then it is to pick up the phone and call you. No one writes letters or takes the time to drop-by for a visit anymore. The digital age has changed the way that people stay in touch and interact, and while it has its benefits it also can hurt the social skills of the “digital natives” by not teaching them how to interact in face to face situations without digital devices.

  3. I have read about the Poynter eye-tracking research before, but don’t have experience with it.

    I probably read the way the research shows. I tend to bounce around first to get an overview of the page, and then find the relevant content.

    I don’t know that digital native’s are disadvantaged. I would say if anyone is disadvantaged, it’s companies that are advertising. I’ve never read anything about different reading habits between millenials and non-millenials, aside from maybe attention span. If there is a big difference, it would be up to companies to cater to that demographic, which could be costly.

  4. I have experience with the eye tracking, and trying to creating web postings the way they have found to be most effective. But there are times that I try to switch it up, and don’t really see that big of a difference in the effectiveness of the postings. I think there is a general method to viewing a web page, but overall, everyone is different in their viewing techniques depending on the page. I personally notice I read left to right and focus more on the left side of the page, but other than that, my viewing changes from page to page.

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