We know where you look at when shopping or reading online

31. 08. 2015
What influence does product layout of a web-store have on the consumer? What does a consumer focus on when looking at a banner? How do they feel about hyperlinks when reading? These questions were answered at a conference on eye movements in Vienna. The UX Focus team brings you digest of the conference for a weekly MarketingSalesMedia.

The world's largest conference on eye movements (ECEM), which takes place every two years, was visited by more than 600 scientists and experts from all over the world. There were many lectures and talks some of which focused on practical use, for instance in internet sales, marketing or publishing.

A grid or a list?
Presenter You Jia Zeng of National Chiao Tung University spoke about the significance of product presentation in the form of a list or a grid when shopping online. The lecture was supported with eye tracking data. “The first three products in the list had higher viewability than other products while in grid format there were no differences in attractiveness of products,” says Zeng. To sum up, the grid presentation does not influence product preference whereas the list presentation can have influence on customers’ preferences in the first three products in the list.

Personalized banners
The use of personalized banners, especially on news websites, increased the number of banner repeated viewing and also improved their memorability. “Eye tracking data showed us that with banners, readers normally first viewed the picture, then the logo, and finally the slogan,” Kaspar said. With non-personalized banners, users usually did not read the slogan – if a company does not target a specific group and wants to reach the general public, they can expect that the majority will not see the slogan.

Animations distracts children
Nils Holmberg of Lund University demonstrated in his lecture the influence animated commercials have on children’s attention when reading web online content. “The presence of animated commercials when reading text has a significant negative effect on understanding in children. They are much more distracted than adults who can control up to 60% of their attention. Children on the other hand have only 30% capability to control where they are looking at,” Holmberg concluded.

Hyperlinks also have an impact on reading. In contrast with bold text they ensure higher level of interest by the reader. “For readers, hyperlinks serve as anchors because they connect their form with relevance to the given topic,” commented Gemma Fitzsimmons of Southhampton University. However, hyperlinks can motivate readers to skipping chunks of text. When you are writing your website or blog entries, do not forget that all links should really correspond with the website content.

Eyes are the windows to the soul
Professor Peter König of Osnabrück University thrilled the audience by saying that eye movements can predict people’s behaviour. For commercial use this is the Holy Grail, but often unattainable for companies with limited research budgets.

Professor’s effort to prove existence of certain “attention maps in each of us” which can predict behaviour unfortunately does not fully work in the real world. These maps based on a mathematic algorithm try to predict where human attention is heading, but they only work with the case when the observer watches an object freely, with no intent. Which one of us watches and just to look at it or visits a web store just to browse aimlessly?

Attention matters
For someone who like us at UX Focus spend a lot of their working time dealing with design, web pages functions, packages and products, the mathematical prediction of attention maps inevitably lacks the influence of intentional attention.

It seems that for many more years we will need an eye tracker and real customers who will provide us with valid data which should be the foundation of every research. Nobody watches anything “just like that” maybe only when observing abstract works of art. But even in this case one could say that people watch the object with a purpose. Comparing the “where people are predicted to look” maps with real eye tracking maps based on people who intend to look is the bigger the more complex of an intention is to shop in a web store.

Author: The UX Focus team 

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