We live our lives on the web every day as we click and hop from site to site. There is so much info out there that we simply do not accept a badly designed and confusing website. If a website doesn’t have what we want, we move onto the next one. Instantly.
This is a major concern for companies who are on the constant quest to build the perfect site based on industry standards. The irony is that everyone is building their website based on the same standard and therefore websites now look identical. (see http://www.gadget.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=4892)
When it comes to every element of the website, experts who are called to advise, however when it comes to the “look and feel” the designers are defaulting back to “industry standard” and offer the company a choice of three designs allowing the companies make a design choice based on “gut feel”.
Whilst this technique worked in the past, today it simply doesn’t.
The current user is more educated and savvy and has a waning attention span and little tolerance. Website owner realise that just having good content is not good enough. User are demanding good user experience too if you want to retain and earn their attention for longer. This is the ultimate goal – keeping user attention for as long as possible. The longer the user experiences your site the more opportunity there is to convert them into a customer.
In order to do this, you need to see your website through your savvy user eyes, understand HOW the user experience your website so you can change the elements that are not working and causing them to flee.
A technology that makes this possible is Eye Tracking. This is a combination of hardware and software that is able to lock onto the user’s pupils and measure scientifically what the user sees on your website, the order in which items are viewed, how long each element hold their attention and which element get no attention at all.
The results are collated and measured to produce various maps that instantly reveal deep insight into what is right and what is wrong with your website.
The results are astonishing.
By way of example, we have analysed The South African Government website and our eye tracking software has revealed the following:
With this Heat-map we are able to measure which elements of the site receive attention. The colour scale is ranged from no-colour (no attention at all), to green (little attention) to yellow (moderate attention) to red (most attention).
It is clear to see from this heat-map that the Video and Photo section are the most sought after elements of this site (red “hot” areas). We can tell also tell that that it took 2.4 seconds for people to notice these sections compared to Area 6 (top navigation) that took 22.2 seconds to be seen. We are able to tell the people spent 1.9 seconds on this section and out of all the people that saw this website, 100% of them revisited this section after viewing another part of the site.
We also notice that people are also looking for the EXIT/ CLOSE button (area 5) which is something you never want to see as the website owner.
With this Gaze Order diagram, we are able to see the order that people viewed this site. The larger the circle the more time they spend on that section. We can clearly see that the people are confused as their eye dash all over the site stopping mainly where there are images as people are desperately seeking information.
Lesson for this website owner: The website owner should redesign the site around photos and videos and not around lots of text information. The navigation is confusing which is evident by the time spent on the navigation menu as people wonder in which section their information is located landing up on the SEARCH button. A redesign around a more multi-media formatted site would radically change lack of time spent on the site.
So in summary:
User experience is now “the new black” – it needs to be part of the plan whether launching a new website or redesigning an existing one. Eye tracking offers a strategic blueprint for refinement or redevelopment of the site or service, or validation of existing strategies.
Eye Tracking system allows you to throw away that crystal ball and that “gut feel” of what the user will like. Eye tracking will allow you to accurately and scientifically tell what works and what doesn’t so that your website is not one of those that is “just average using the best industry practice – like everyone else”.
For more information on Eye Tracking and what it can do: www.eyetracking.co.za
FREE Research Paper Presentation:
I will be presenting a research paper: Proof that using “Best Practices” to design your website is not only wrong but harmful to your company at Internet Show, on the 11th and 12th of September 2012.
Its FREE so come and join me click here to resister for the session, the click on Theatre 2 and then put a tick box next to my session at 12.30 on the 11th. Click on Register Free now)