Eyetracking is not something that you can do yourself. Like many of the best things in life, and certainly the best things in testing web designs, it doesn’t come for free. However, eyetracking tells us a lot of important things about web design; you can’t get such raw, unbiased insights anywhere else. And fortunately, many of the lessons learned by eyetracking pioneers are as applicable to every site on the web as they are to the sites that tests were performed on. Today we check out 5 of the important lessons about web design learned from eyetracking studies.
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Eyetracking studies show us that headlines get the first attention on a page (even before pictures, and definitely before logos), and that people will read the first couple of words of a headline. If you give them a list of headlines, they’ll scan down its left hand side, looking for something in the first couple of words that interests them. So, put more time, thought and creativity into your headlines than most any other part of the page!
The Golden Triangle:
Heat maps (the results of eyetracking studies – see above) consistently show us that a ‘golden triangle’ exists in web design, extending from around the horizontal midway point of the screen, to the extreme left side of the screen at the bottom of the fold. These two points are joined to make a ‘golden triangle’ – and this is where all the important parts of your web design should go! This is why many sites monetised by Adsense fill the space with Google Ads.
People will focus on your copy for longer if you make it smaller. Smaller type encourages reading, while larger type encourages scanning. Of course, you must also balance your type size with readability and eye strain! Use this power in your web design for good, instead of evil, by only making the type small that people need to read for the purposes of completing their visit.
People don’t pay as much attention to ads utilising Flash or multimedia – they actually prefer to read text ads. However, if you’re trying to help your visitors learn something, multimedia such as diagrams, illustrations, video walkthroughs etc are by far the best way to do that in your web design.
Bottom of the page:
The bottom area of a page – yes, even below the fold – is still pretty hot real estate in web design! Especially if the important part of the information is placed on the left hand side, where users tend to look first. People know that you can get all sorts of quick links in the footer – make use of that in your web design.
Of course, there’s nothing that beats having personalized eyetracking done on your web design. Human eyes are hardwired to behave in a certain way, and so you can draw some very broad conclusions from only a small group of participants. Eyetracking studies can be multivariate, and they can also be performed on mock-ups before heavy web design and development work has gone in. If you can afford eyetracking for your own potential web designs, it is certainly recommended.