Adding an extra dimension to UX with eyetracking

Eyetracking is a useful tool in understanding, measuring and defining the user experience.

To really get over how useful a tool it is, the video of me using the eyetracker below highlights the points I make.

1. You see what the user sees.
It sounds simple I know, but being able to see what the user sees brings another dimension to understanding how a design is performing. Is that call to action noticed? Is it understood? At what point in engaging with the page is it seen?

2. Making design decisions is easier.
The subjectivity associated with design can often cloud the performance of the design. When evaluating differing design routes, eyetracking allows the designs to be understood from a more objective point of view. Do the difference in the designs have an effect on the visual hierarchy? Does the visual design impact on the task/goal the user might have?

3. Define the UX fundamentals.
The blog post I wrote last year on the Myth of the Page Fold relied heavily on eyetracking data to show that whilst a design issue, the page fold is not a barrier to engaging with content.

Clear evidence to address some of the misconceptions in design. Links must be blue? Eyetracking shows that as long as links are visually differentiated from content the colour is irrelevant.

4. Evaluate the effectiveness of copy.
Eyetracking is great for understanding copy that is engaging. Typically we see users read the first line or paragraph and decide if they want to read more. More often than not they don't read much more. Skim reading is often the norm. Well spaced short bullet points engage well.

5. A great way to engage the project team.
One of the hidden benefits of eyetracking is that the project team experience the site as the user does in a much more profound way than traditional user testing. The red dot indicating what is being fixated can be extremely engaging.

As with all UX techniques there are of course limits with eyetracking. There's no doubt however, it brings a further dimension to understanding the user experience.

Joe is an esteemed former member of the cxpartners team. His articles are still here to enrich us.