Eyetracking Studies — 7 Traps to Avoid

In my last post I talked about eyetracking. I don’t actually do a lot of eyetracking work, but this past week I was asked to give a talk on a panel about eyetracking at the SES (Search Engine Strategy) conference in Chicago, so it is kind of on my mind. So one more post about eyetracking, and then I’ll move on to different topics!

At the conference I talked about the 7 traps to avoid if you are contemplating conducting an eyetracking study. In my last post I briefly explain what eyetracking is:

“Eye tracking is a technology that allows you to see and record what a person is looking at, and for how long. One way it is used is to study web sites to see where people are looking on a web page, where they look first, second, etc. It’s a pretty interesting technology, one of the benefits being that you don’t have to rely on what people SAY they are looking at, but can collect the data directly.”

Here’s a brief summary of my talk at the conference:

Trap #1: Underestimating the effect of what you ask people to do on where they look — When you are doing an eyetracking study you are interested in where people are looking on the screen. But the research shows that where they look depends on what you have asked them. See my last post for details and examples on this.

Trap #2: Assuming that where people are looking is what they are paying attention to — At the SES conference I believe Shari Thurow (who spoke on the panel with me) called this the ketchup effect (or maybe it was the milk effect or the refrigerator effect). Have you ever opened the refrigerator to get the ketchup out and you can’t find it? Even though it is right in front of you? People often look at something without paying attention to it. And we have peripheral vision too, so it is also possible for people to be looking at one thing and actually paying attention to something nearby. Continue reading “Eyetracking Studies — 7 Traps to Avoid”