A great user experience is no longer a nice-to-have. Your users expect a flawless user experience when interacting with your product, and businesses that invest in an intuitive UX have an edge over their competitors. In fact, Mike Gebbia of Airbnb credits UX for taking the company to $10 billion!
That’s why many companies and the UX research teams that support them are constantly looking for technologies and tools to help them improve user experience.
Eye Tracking is one such technology that has gained interest from the UX community. It is particularly useful when you want to understand the why behind certain user actions that are not clearly understood by other methods.
For example, if you’re testing an e-commerce website and want to know why shoppers are dropping from your product pages, you can use eye tracking to find if shoppers can quickly discover the add-to-cart button on your product pages.
Let’s take a closer look at what eye tracking is, its benefits, how it can help you understand your users, and the benefits of leveraging eye tracking in usability testing.
What is Eye Tracking?
Eye-tracking is a technology that measures and tracks an individual’s eye movements. It monitors pupil dilation, point of gaze, and blinking to see where users focus their visual attention and what they engage with and ignore.
The areas where a user’s gaze stops moving are called fixation. Fixations are often visualized by circles. The longer the fixation, the bigger the circle.
A fixation occurs when the user finds something interesting and looks at it. This can happen when users seek something specific consciously or unconsciously when something captures their attention. Fixation provides insight into your user behavior and tells you what elements grab your users’ attention.
The movement of a user’s eye between fixation points is known as a saccade. Visualizing saccades allows us to see the eye’s paths on a page.
From a UX perspective, this technology helps assess the usability and effectiveness of a website by allowing UX researchers and testers to see through the users’ eyes. And get insights about visual attention and focus while engaging with a website or an app.
The data generated through eye tracking technology is very valuable, and that’s why the global eye tracking market is expected to reach $ 1.1 billion by 2025, up from $368 million in 2020.
Why Is Eye Tracking Important in Usability Testing?
Eye tracking can provide valuable insight into users’ preferences that other usability testing methods can’t. For example, in the below image, it is pretty easy to predict what people will look at first. With eye tracking, it is possible to learn what attracts and captures the user’s attention on any page.
By using eye tracking, you can find out how easy and intuitive it is to navigate on your website or app. The information you get from eye tracking studies helps you answer specific research questions. Are there distracting areas on the screen?
Remember, by using eye tracking, you won’t know if users understand your copy, but it will tell if they spend time in that area of the screen. With gaze replays and gaze plots, you can learn a lot about where individual users tend to look and in what order.
Benefits of Leveraging Eye Tracking in Usability Testing
#1 Help You Find Usability Errors in Real-time
The main goal of user testing is to determine how intuitive your website, app, or prototype is in the eyes of your actual users, how they navigate through them, what elements hold their attention, and what patterns they follow.
With eye tracking technology, researchers can gain real-time insight into what users notice and garner a comprehensive understanding of where their website connects with users and where it is falling flat without disrupting users’ flow.
Truckers Assist, an automotive repair and wreckage company, used eye tracking to track its homepage’s performance and found the usability issue on the homepage.
The result showed that the ‘NO FEES’ button, the red point on the image, captured much attention, but it wasn’t clickable. As a result, many users focused their attention on a different place, steering them away from more valuable information.
#2 Eye Tracking Can Show You Areas of Interest (AOI)
To deliver the best user experience on a website or app, you need to get inside your users’ minds. Eye-tracking is the most effective way to do that.
With it, you can test which areas and elements of a site capture users’ attention and use these insights to decide where to put the main elements.
Do you know the most tested websites in the world, like Amazon, use eye tracking to decide where to place their main elements?
Amazon has placed a clear priority on the left side of its homepage, and the reason behind it is that users heavily favor the left side of the screen.
According to a study by Nielsen Group, all across articles, e-commerce sites, and search engine results, people almost always browse in an F-shaped pattern that heavily favors the left side of the screen.
#3 Eye Tracking Can Help You Create a Flawless UX
Did you know that 32% of users will leave a brand they love if they have one bad experience? So, if you want users to keep coming back, you must deliver them a great user experience.
What’s the role of eye tracking in providing a flawless user experience?
Eye tracking measures subconscious behavior, and by leveraging eye tracking in usability testing, you can access unbiased insights that will show you where improvements are necessary.
Also, with eye tracking, you can find distracting elements and remove them to improve your website or app usability and your user experience.
Remember, users often leave web pages in 10–20 seconds, so making the site as user-friendly as possible is essential.
What UX Team Should Keep in Mind While Using Eye Tracking Technology?
Eye tracking offers many benefits for usability testing, and many articles have covered that part well, but it is essential to know what it can’t do as well.
Eye tracking is a tool in your toolbox – it is not a silver bullet. It can tell you what your users are looking at, but you will need to find out whether people like what they see. How long people look at something doesn’t always correlate with how much they like it. They may be confused, bored, or fascinated. But combining eye tracking data with facial coding can help UX teams understand whether the user is focusing on one particular area because of confusion, boredom, or fascination. And then, based on the results, you can take appropriate actions.
For example, with eye tracking, you can see what content people are looking at, but it won’t tell whether people understand your content. To answer this, you should run a survey or conduct an interview after people have interacted with your website or app and your usability session.
Also, eye tracking doesn’t tell you people’s intentions. So, it won’t always give you accurate insight into what your users think or feel when using your product. It won’t help you understand whether people will act on what they see. But by combining eye tracking data with regular usability studies, you can get closer to answering these questions.