The Latest in Eye Tracking Web Usability Research pt1
Web usability is a hot topic in the eye tracking industry. This is because eye tracking technology provides researchers studying the usability of a website or software interface with more comprehensive feedback than just thinking out loud, click behavior, or time on page. Having the ability to observe eye movement behaviors is about as close to being in the user’s head as you can get. There is a lot that goes into conducting a usability study with eye tracking and obtaining valuable, constructive results.
Nielsen and Norman Groups, a consulting and research company that focuses on user experience, published a behemoth of a report entitled “Eye-Tracking Methodology: How to Conduct and Evaluate Usability Studies Using Eye-Tracking.” The report covers how to plan, conduct, and analyze an eye tracking study that will produce results to improve web usability. This post summarizes the report’s key suggestions for planning a usability study using eye tracking. It will be followed by two more posts that cover the process of conducting an eye tracking study and analyzing the results.
- When recruiting participants for the study, tell them that eye tracking will be used during the session. However, don’t overemphasize it. They may change their eye movement behavior if they become self-conscious about what they look at. The eye tracker alone could freak them out, causing them to decline participation.
- When screening for participants, find out if they meet the target demographic first before asking questions related to eye health. Don’t let them know what is you are looking for before they answer the questions. Limit the number of eye-related questions to 8 or less so as not to be too intrusive.
- Recruit for participants over the phone rather than email because it’s faster and gives the screener the ability to clarify and the potential participant the opportunity to ask questions.
- If using an eye tracking heatmap to analyze data, there need to be at least 30 users per heatmap for it to present significant, stable results. The report suggests 39 just in case some eye tracking recordings are too low quality.
- Because of the expense of testing at least 30 users for heatmaps, the report recommends doing a qualitative eye tracking study that observes gaze behavior replays because this method only requires 5 or 6 users for assessment of usability. Also, variability in behavior has to be taken into consideration with heatmaps.
- During the sessions, test your competitor’s site as well as multiple versions of your own.
More to come about the next step, conducting an eye tracking web usability study.
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