Image Source: weforum.org
Imagine this: You’ve just finished your blog, and you want to post it online. Great! So you post it, but then a thought occurs. How do I know what the readers are paying attention to? Are they getting the best information from my posting? If I post this online, does that mean that someone is actually going to understand what I am trying to explain?
These are all great questions, and apart of Eye Tracking. So with that said, the question arises. What is Eye Tracking, and how can it help me with my blog post? Well, that’s what I aim to answer today! If you’ll join me, I’ll go ahead and start answering some questions!
Eye Tracking: What is it?
Eye Tracking is a usability test that tells the creator exactly what people are looking at when they come to the website or blog. It does exactly what it says on the tin, it tracks the eye.
Eye tracking is sometimes perceived as a silver bullet – the ultimate technology with which to diagnose user interface issues.usabilitygeek.com
While eye tracking does test to see what the eye does with movement, it also tests more than that. Firstly, it tests for fixation, or what an eye would stop on. For example, the bolded word in the last sentence. The bold in that word draws the attention from the rest of the page, and helps to stop the reader from skimming past it. The other important thing that eye tracking test for is what is called a saccade. For another example, if you paused to look at the bolded word fixation, and then kept reading, just to pause again at the word saccade, you’ve successfully demonstrated exactly what a saccade is! A saccade is a movement between fixation points.
Image Source: usability.gov
The image above is a image that comes specifically from eye tracking tests. The areas in green are areas that happen to be viewed less heavily, followed by yellow areas, which get a bit more attention, followed by red, which get the most attention.
Not only can eye tracking be interesting to see the results of, it also helps your website! Eye tracking shows exactly what your audience’s eyes focus on when they come to your site. Taking the information that you receive from an eye tracking test and then incorporating that into your website can help to foster traffic, and help your website or blog to grow!
That said, there’s more to say about eye tracking. You might find yourself saying “Wow, eye tracking seems to be really useful. But I don’t have the money or time to run a huge experiment for my website.” Well, worry not!
How Big of a Test does Eye Tracking Require?
Something that might not seem particularly obvious when deciding to run an eye tracking test is just how many people make for a good test group size. If you go with a large group full of different people of different backgrounds and cultures, you might have a heavy amount of results, but the time and cost would make no sense for a smaller website that’s just trying to get off of the ground. That said, if you go too small, you might not get any information at all.
The most striking truth of the curve is that zero users give zero insights.https://www.nngroup.com/articles/why-you-only-need-to-test-with-5-users/
The takeaway of this quote is that there is definitely a number that gives you less than ideal insight. That said, the idea of a number being above zero doesn’t narrow it down by a lot, so what gives?
Image Source: nngroup.com
This graph is from a test done specifically to find the right size for a usability test, which includes eye tracking. What they found helps to get a better idea of how many people are needed to find issues in usability.
While working on this test, it was found that the first user that was added above zero made the number of usability problems found jump. Then by adding a second test subject, and then a third, the number of problems found continued to rise even higher. However, once they reached a certain number of people, the amount of problems that were found seemed to halt.
As you add more and more users, you learn less and less because you will keep seeing the same things again and again.https://www.nngroup.com/articles/why-you-only-need-to-test-with-5-users/
After five users, the test found that the users were finding the same things time and time again, so there wasn’t a necessity to continue adding more people to the test.
So what is there to take away from all this testing about extra users? The most concise way to put it is that you don’t necessarily need a large test group in order to find a lot of the usability issues in your website. You might just end up needing five or less!
The F-Shape Pattern
The F-Shape Pattern is a pattern that website visitors often user in order to scan through the contents of a website. The pattern oftentimes takes the shape of an F, but that’s a bit of a misleading title. While the pattern can be in the shape of an F, and often does, this reading pattern can oftentimes take many different forms as well, such as an E, or the Spotted Pattern, which involves skimming through the larger chunks of text in order to find either links or a set of words that someone might be looking for.
Image Source: Chris Mole Media
So how does F-Shaped Scanning work?
Steps to F-Shaped Scanning
- The user first takes a look and reads through the upper part of the content, which creates the top line of the F.
- The user then goes and reads across a part of the content lower down on the page, creating the second line of the F.
- The user finally scans the left side of the site, creating the vertical line of the F.
This scanning pattern resembles the shape of the letter F, but it is rarely a perfect Fhttps://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/
This scanning practice creates a small problem for the website or blog creators. When users participate in the F-Shaped Scanning, it creates the issue that the user might not get the important information that comes later in the post. If that is the case, then the user might not gain what they came to this blog post for.
How do I prevent F-Shaped Scanning?
Good question. There’s a few different options.
- Headings and subheadings help to draw the eyes of the users.
- Important words need to be bolded
- Remove any content that might be unnecessary.
While there are more ways to prevent F-Shaped Scanning, these are some of the easiest ways to help alleviate the effects.
Imagine this scenario: You’ve been looking through multiple websites, desperately looking for that one piece of evidence for a paper that you need to drive the thesis home, but you’ve only got 30 minutes to find it. What a jam! Not to worry though, you’ve got it narrowed down to two different websites. Let’s call them Website A and Website Ω. What a strange name… but regardless!
Website A has its information all placed in a massive block of text. There are no headings, apart from the title, and the website overall had no bolded words or anything that might draw the readers eye to it. If you’ve got only 30 minutes in order to finish this paper, you might have to pass on Website A, due to the lack of anything guiding your eye there. Either that, or you might participate in F-Shaped Scanning in order to find the information you’re looking for.
Website Ω, however, has their information laid out in neat, organized headings. The words that mean a lot to your paper are all bolded, and there isn’t extra content that does no good for people that read the website. There is less incentive in this case to use F-Shaped Scanning.
This scenario is a common occurrence when F-Shaped Scanning comes into play. Now that you’ve become aware of F-shaped scanning, as well as some of the ways to prevent it outright, or maybe even just downplay some of the results of it, you’ll be able to use this in your own writing!
Overall, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to Eye Tracking. Making sure to have the correct amount of users to test the eye tracking, as well as the effects of F-Shaped scanning are important aspects of website/blog creation to consider.
Overall, I hope that these concepts help your blogs and websites when you create them!