How to use eye-tracking to test your chamber websiteThursday, April 5, 2012
After reading last week’s post, you should have a basic understanding of the principles of web usability. Now it’s time to put your user interface to the test with a method called eye tracking.
What is eye tracking?
The first time you hear the phrase “eye tracking,” your mind might conjure up scenes from complex sci-fi movies like The Matrix. But the goal of eye tracking is actually very simple. Basically, this type of testing determines where your website visitors are focusing their attention.
How to perform an eye tracking test
The easiest (and cheapest!) way to do an eye tracking test is to request the help of your peers. For a chamber, this can be as simple as presenting your website at a board meeting. Observe as your board members navigate through your site, paying close attention to how many clicks it takes to get them from Point A to Point B. This will reveal how easy or difficult it is to navigate your chamber’s site.
Of course, it couldn’t hurt to get a second opinion from an outside source. I encourage you to study how other individuals (such as your spouse, children or neighbors) navigate the site. You can even make it a little more fun by timing how long it takes them to find certain pieces of content.
Stretched for time and resources? Consider using eye tracking software to test your website.
Using eye tracking software
If you don’t mind spending a little money, try cost-effective eye tracking software like Attention Wizard and Crazy Egg. Attention Wizard uses an algorithm to create a heatmap predicting how a visitor might view a website. This software shows the progression of what people see while glancing at your website. Crazy Egg, also a heatmapping software, allows you to determine where people are clicking on your website. Please be aware that software is not as accurate as using live test subjects, but – for the cost – it is much more insightful than using nothing at all.
To demonstrate how heatmapping works, I’m going to use software to run an eye tracking test on the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce homepage.
Before the test:
After the test:
As you can see, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce makes good use of attention-grabbing images. Rather than crowding the page with excessive information, this webpage draws the visitor’s attention to just a few focal points. The usability lesson this heatmap teaches us? Use images to spotlight your most valuable content, and you’re likely to increase views.
Eye tracking might sound like something from a Keanu Reeves movie, but if you stick to the basics, it can be a beneficial practice for testing the usability of your chamber’s website.
Let me know if you’ve ever considered, or are considering, using eye tracking software to analyze your chamber website. If you have done it, how do you feel about the results? Thanks!