Eye tracking reveals what is on human's mind

24. 08. 2015
User research often reveal that best practices of web design and making visuals are on shaky ground. The users’ attention is always caught by something unexpected. Interview with Miroslav Suchý for MARKETING & MEDIA.

Web pages, phone apps, marketing materials, TV spots and commercials – all these can be tested using eye tracking. What is it good for? The results are often very surprising, not only for developers and web designers, but also for clients themselves.

“During my studies in England I worked for a creative agency where eye tracking is very commonplace. I also found out that research can be done completely differently than what is normal in the Czech Republic. And that’s what inspired me,” explains the founder of UX Focus, Miroslav Suchý.

While most people associate eye tracking with sociologists in specialized laboratories, there is an easier way. “Eye tracking is carried out right at the clients’. This “portable lab” is more convenient for them and they have everything under control. I think it was the inflexibility of research agencies that stood in the way of frequent use of eye trackers,” Mr Suchý, who tested the new web of the publishing house Economia, shares his vision.

Eye-tracking data doesn’t lie
There are significant differences in eye tracking devices and software, but the real key to success is to choose the right target group and to state hypotheses wisely. “It has been confirmed during testing that different age categories browse web pages completely differently which can really change the results. Prior to the research itself, it is essential to analyze the client’s needs. When we fully understand what they aim for, we can make the testing process much more effective,” Suchý explains.

During usability testing, the testing groups have approximately eight people. The broadcast is screened live in another room. The respondents later go through everything step by step and they are asked what caught their eye and why, and what they did not notice and what is the reason for that.

“Evaluation of the results is often literally shocking because agencies or clients usually test their advertisement or websites in questionnaire surveys, but our outcomes are often the opposite. The reason is that people often don’t know what they really like or sometimes they deliberately lie to appeal to the interviewer. Eye tracking data expose that,” Suchý adds.

Despite everything, it is impossible to eliminate all the problems found. Normally, they are classified according to relevance from the most important to those having no effect. The result is a series of recommendations. “We like to oversee their application to make sure our research findings are not accidentally misinterpreted,” says Suchý dutifully.

Is it worth it?
Very often only basic features like a logo, description, or headline are tested via eye tracking. Sometimes it is complete brand awareness and visibility in online environment, which is also popular. Many e-commerce clients favour user experience testing. In TV spots, the effect of editing is evaluated among other things. The research is certainly not for free. The price is very individual though and large-scale testing processes can take up to two or three weeks. Both price and duration of the evaluation process might pose a problem, especially for advertising agencies.  “When a client realises that they have a chance to test their commercial whose launch costs millions, eye tracking is definitely worth the money,” concludes the UX Focus owner. He admits though that his clients have so far been successful web stores, banks or big publishing houses.


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