Eye tracking, how valuable is it?

4 Jul 2006 - 1:41pm
8 years ago
15 replies
1287 reads
Simon Asselbergs
2005

Hi all,

I visited http://www.etre.com/images/EyeTrackingDemo.swf
I was enthousiastic. But now I have some questions...

1. How new is eye-tracking utilised for the purpose of evaluating software on usability?
2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
3. What is the best equipment you had your hands on? How much does it cost

Cheers,

Simon

--
_______________________________________________

Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow Pages

http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10

Comments

4 Jul 2006 - 1:55pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jul 4, 2006, at 11:41 AM, Simon Asselbergs wrote:

> 1. How new is eye-tracking utilised for the purpose of evaluating
> software on usability?
> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?

http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2006/06/13/eyetracking-worth-the-expense/
http://www.uie.com/articles/eye_tracking_benefits/

Dan Saffer
Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

4 Jul 2006 - 7:21pm
Dey Alexander
2006

Hi Simon,

Some other articles (in no particular order) that mention the use of
eyetracking include:

http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000040.php
http://www.poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/main.htm
http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=69884
http://www.upassoc.org/upa_publications/jus/2006_may/bojko_eye_tracking.html
http://experiencedynamics.blogs.com/site_search_usability/2004/12/eyetracking_stu.html
http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=2776
http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/72/eyetracking.htm
http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/71/eye_tracking.html
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/newsletters.html
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/video.html

Cheers,
Dey

On 7/5/06, Simon Asselbergs <interaction-designer at lycos.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi all,
>
> I visited http://www.etre.com/images/EyeTrackingDemo.swf
> I was enthousiastic. But now I have some questions...
>
> 1. How new is eye-tracking utilised for the purpose of evaluating software
> on usability?
> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
> 3. What is the best equipment you had your hands on? How much does it cost
>
>
> Cheers,
>
> Simon
>
> --
> _______________________________________________
>
> Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow
> Pages
>
>
> http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

5 Jul 2006 - 5:53am
Ischai Cohen
2005

Hello simon. You wrote:
>>2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
I found it very valuable, since the eye is the focus of the user
attention and the gateway to her behavior. We can track mouse movement,
but it says nothing about how the user sees and understands the
information.
By tracking the eye movement you can learn why it is that we are
oblivious to banners; you can make assumptions about the use of
anomalies the design etc.
My two cents

Yishay Cohen
Interaction Designer*
-------------------------------------------------/---
Van Ostadestraat 149
1073 TK Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 6077084
F +31 (0)20 6077077
http://www.clockwork.nl
-------------------------------------------------/---
*made you look

5 Jul 2006 - 8:36am
Todd Warfel
2003

Eye tracking doesn't tell us much beyond where and how they scan a
page. There is a lot more to human behavior than that.

Eye tracking is only one piece of the puzzle. When I was at Cornell,
we built an HCI lab that had eye tracking software. We used it to
look at large commerce and content driven sites to track vision
patterns. And that was great for seeing where users/visitors/
consumers were scanning the screen as well as what areas they were
either avoiding, or not spending too much time on. Incidentally, the
woman who was the resident expert on the eye tracking software at
Cornell now works at Google in their eye tracking lab.

It didn't tell us what they were selecting and why. Eye tracking
won't tell you that someone clicked a drop down menu scrolled it for
a couple of seconds and found it confusing. But video recording and
an observing moderator will. The heat maps are pretty and impressive.
And the software we had could do 3D topo mapping of the data, which
was also impressive. But that only told us where to go back to the
screens and look and try and figure out why whatever was happening
was happening.

What I'm still waiting for is eye tracking mashed up with click
through data from something like Omniture. Now, that will tell us
what they spend time on visually, or ignore, as well as what they are
actually exploring physically. Eye tracking on its own is only
minimally useful. But combine it with log analysis and screen
recording and you've got something very powerful. Yes, I know, that's
very difficult, as it's not realistic to fit 10,000 customers with
eye tracking equipment, but I can still dream.

From the field
We have a client right now who's undergoing a redesign. They can't
figure out for the life of them why their promos for signing up new
customers aren't working. They've tried changing locations, size, and
graphical treatment. They've decided to use eye tracking studies to
find out where customers look most often. They find a few studies on-
line and determine they should put it in the areas the customer looks
most often. Unfortunately, that's where they already have it.

We let them know that eye tracking is only one piece of the puzzle.
They need to also consider the free promotional item they're offering
(is it of value to your customers?), the size, the colours, the
visual treatment, and what else is around it. They're emphasizing
everything on the page. And by emphasizing everything, you emphasize
nothing.

On Jul 5, 2006, at 6:53 AM, Ischai Cohen wrote:

> I found it very valuable, since the eye is the focus of the user
> attention and the gateway to her behavior. We can track mouse
> movement,
> but it says nothing about how the user sees and understands the
> information.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

5 Jul 2006 - 8:57am
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 09:36 AM 7/5/2006, Todd Warfel wrote:
>We have a client right now who's undergoing a redesign. They can't
>figure out for the life of them why their promos for signing up new
>customers aren't working.

Maybe it's because it's something nobody wants? If so, no amount of eye
tracking will help.

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
978 327-5561 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

5 Jul 2006 - 9:17am
Todd Warfel
2003

Yeah, well, that was my first question and recommendation - find a
promo that has value to your customers, because if it doesn't have
value, it doesn't really matter what it looks like or where we put it.

On Jul 5, 2006, at 9:57 AM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

> Maybe it's because it's something nobody wants? If so, no amount of
> eye tracking will help.
>
> Jared

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

6 Jul 2006 - 4:58pm
Peter Merholz
2004

> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?

Let me caveat this by saying I've never used eye-tracking.

But, to me, using eye-tracking in user research for interactive media
seems like a desperate attempt at getting something "scientific" but
which is unlikely truly valuable.

I've never conducted a research study, or had a research question,
where eyetracking would produce any worthwhile insights.

In my research, I'm interested in two things -- behavior and
motivation. Eyetracking *definitely* won't get me motivation. Will it
get me behavior? Well, not as well as simply seeing what users
actually *do*... Which is much much more than where they look.

The fetish for eyetracking in interactive media user research reminds
me of the fetish for hits and page views during the early development
of the web. Hits and page views were remarkably concrete -- server
logs were spewing that information. You could point to it with
confidence.

However, neither hits nor page views rarely has much to do with
*results*--with whatever it is that brings true value to your site,
your business.

So the first question to ask is, can you connect the *results* of eye-
tracking to something truly valuable in your organization?

The next question to ask is, can you achieve that value through other
means?

--peter

7 Jul 2006 - 3:01am
John Gr√łtting
2006

I would agree with Peter. Eye-tracking comes from research that looks
to define a singular "best way" to design a layout for optimal speed.
However, there are so many factors that contribute to usability, that
this is the greatest overkill that I have ever seen applied to a
project. There has been some good research around fundamental
perception that eye-tracking has helped, but for real business
situations, it is too academic.

If you were building a heads-up display for fighter jets, then an eye-
tracking research project is very appropriate, but when I see how
Jakob Nielsen uses eye-tracking (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/
reading_pattern.html), it is obvious that many people are missing the
ball. Most of what we learn is common sense. When you apply good
design principles, you don't need this kind of research. And, if you
didn't apply good design principles in the first place, then you
probably don't have the staff to fix the problems anyways.

Am 06.07.2006 um 23:58 schrieb Peter Merholz:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
>> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
>

John Grøtting

Grøtting + Sauter
Barnerstr. 14B
22765 Hamburg
Germany

Tel +49.40.398.34342
SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
Fax +49.40.398.34340
Mobile +49.172.4246.976
www.g-s.de
g at g-s.de

7 Jul 2006 - 6:00am
Christopher Fahey
2005

> I would agree with Peter.

Me too. Eyetracking would seem to be useful for situations where there are
key stakeholders who lack common sense, people who cannot make design
decisions if their lives depended on it, people who require some sort of
"empirical" decision making tool to make decisions for them.

But that's precisely where things get really dangerous: Because eyetracking
test results are "dumb" and, as Peter said, do not provide insight into the
user's motivations, non-design-saavy decision makers are more likely to
dramatically *misinterpret* the results. Some people think that eyetracking,
like chicken soup, can't hurt... but I wouldn't be so sure of that.

Instead of paying for an eyetracking test, hire a good UI designer.

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

7 Jul 2006 - 1:17am
Uday A Athavankar
2006

There is another way in which we can view eye tracking.

We need to change the scope of the word 'User behavior'. Eye tracking is a
perceptual behaviour of user and should seen in that context. thus it can
also explain other user behavior that is motivated by perceptual inputs.
It is unlikely to show magical results but will add to the way we
understand user and his responses.

I have used eye tracking for a very different purpose and found it useful.

Uday Athavankar

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
>> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
>
> Let me caveat this by saying I've never used eye-tracking.
>
> But, to me, using eye-tracking in user research for interactive media
> seems like a desperate attempt at getting something "scientific" but
> which is unlikely truly valuable.
>
> I've never conducted a research study, or had a research question,
> where eyetracking would produce any worthwhile insights.
>
> In my research, I'm interested in two things -- behavior and
> motivation. Eyetracking *definitely* won't get me motivation. Will it
> get me behavior? Well, not as well as simply seeing what users
> actually *do*... Which is much much more than where they look.
>
> The fetish for eyetracking in interactive media user research reminds
> me of the fetish for hits and page views during the early development
> of the web. Hits and page views were remarkably concrete -- server
> logs were spewing that information. You could point to it with
> confidence.
>
> However, neither hits nor page views rarely has much to do with
> *results*--with whatever it is that brings true value to your site,
> your business.
>
> So the first question to ask is, can you connect the *results* of eye-
> tracking to something truly valuable in your organization?
>
> The next question to ask is, can you achieve that value through other
> means?
>
> --peter
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
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> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

7 Jul 2006 - 8:19am
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 07:00 AM 7/7/2006, Christopher Fahey wrote:
>Because eyetracking test results are "dumb" and, as Peter said, do not
>provide insight into the user's motivations, non-design-saavy decision
>makers are more likely to dramatically *misinterpret* the results. Some
>people think that eyetracking, like chicken soup, can't hurt... but I
>wouldn't be so sure of that.

Eyetrackers don't kill people. Misinterpreted results kill people.

I think I saw that on a bumper sticker the other day.

I don't think misinterpreted results are limited to "non-design-savvy
decision makers" -- in fact, I'm quite sure of it. Drawing poor inferences
from available data is at epidemic proportions in our field. (
http://www.uie.com/articles/recommendation/ ) We need to do much more about
this problem, whether an eyetracker is involved or not.

>Instead of paying for an eyetracking test, hire a good UI designer.

Care to outline exactly how one goes about hiring a *good* UI designer? ;-)

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
978 327-5561 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

7 Jul 2006 - 8:21am
Joannes Vandermeulen
2006

Christopher wrote:
> Instead of paying for an eyetracking test, hire a good UI designer.

I agree with Christopher and in support of his point you may want to
read the 2001 research note that my company put together.
http://www.namahn.com/resources/documents/note-eyetracking.pdf

We conclude:

- usually, it's overkill
- it may be useful (1) to test competing hypotheses or (2) to build
credibility with prospects who are rationally inclined, such as R&D
managers or market researchers.

In general, I'd recommend spending money on field studies, for example,
instead of eyetracking or other 'popular science' techniques.

Joannes

_____________________________________________________

Joannes Vandermeulen (Mr), Namahn, Brussels, jv at namahn.com
Office +32 2 209 08 83, mobile +32 476 62 62 46
Minding the user throughout -- visit us at http://www.namahn.com

7 Jul 2006 - 9:30am
Mark Schraad
2006

At best eye checking will give some insight into the cognitive side
of how a person's sensation and perception of the page - how edge
detection, spacial relationships, hierachial impact and grouping are
processes. That arms you with only one very small piece of the
cognitive puzzle. Those tendencies of the human brain tend to be
pretty well documented and even in the most latent of cognitive psych
departments eye tracking equipment mostly sets collecting dust.

Of much more importance to the UE or UI designer is likely the
behavioral side of the user. And this research should be done up
front and tested in early prototypes.

While the knowledge base of sensation, perception and cognition is
certainly not absolute or final, much of what a designer needs to
know from this field is well documented and can be easily be obtained
in text books and on nearly any university campus.

On Jul 7, 2006, at 3:01 AM, John Grøtting wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I would agree with Peter. Eye-tracking comes from research that looks
> to define a singular "best way" to design a layout for optimal speed.
> However, there are so many factors that contribute to usability, that
> this is the greatest overkill that I have ever seen applied to a
> project. There has been some good research around fundamental
> perception that eye-tracking has helped, but for real business
> situations, it is too academic.
>
> If you were building a heads-up display for fighter jets, then an eye-
> tracking research project is very appropriate, but when I see how
> Jakob Nielsen uses eye-tracking (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/
> reading_pattern.html), it is obvious that many people are missing the
> ball. Most of what we learn is common sense. When you apply good
> design principles, you don't need this kind of research. And, if you
> didn't apply good design principles in the first place, then you
> probably don't have the staff to fix the problems anyways.
>
>
> Am 06.07.2006 um 23:58 schrieb Peter Merholz:
>
>> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>> material.]
>>
>>> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
>>
>
> John Grøtting
>
> Grøtting + Sauter
> Barnerstr. 14B
> 22765 Hamburg
> Germany
>
> Tel +49.40.398.34342
> SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
> Fax +49.40.398.34340
> Mobile +49.172.4246.976
> www.g-s.de
> g at g-s.de
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

7 Jul 2006 - 2:20pm
adamya ashk
2004

I'm late to this thread. However, I have to chime in.

Eyetracking is near useless in predicting how people will use your
site/application/widget. It can never take the place of a seasoned
usability practitioner plying his trade through careful user interview
or analysis of click-stream data

But, (and there is always a 'but' in our field) I think it can be
tremendously useful to find out where people look when they come to
your site/application/widget. It can give you the 'dead spots'. The
places where ninety percent or so of users 'don't' look. 'Look where?'
you might say or 'look for what?'.

Well, let's say you have your 'average' corporate home page which is
averagely busy. And your company happens to launch this great service,
a link to which finds it's way to the said homepage. You hope to drive
traffic to this service but the process of getting this link on the
homepage or at least getting people to agree to it has been a
political process. Someone's stuff is going to be pushed out or maybe
below the fold, now that everyone's behind the idea.

How do you determine the spot you would shoot for? What impact would
this link have on other important areas? In these situations an
eye-tracking study can be really useful in determining what goes where
and how things will change.

And as someone mentioned mentioned above, results gathered over time
combined with click-stream data can give you a valuable picture of
what users are doing.

-Adamya

PS A big hello to Prof. Athavankar. I hope you are well.

On 7/7/06, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:

> >>
> >>> 2. How valuable is it? What can you say based on eye-tracking data?
> >>

7 Jul 2006 - 3:05pm
Christopher Fahey
2005

> >Instead of paying for an eyetracking test, hire a good UI designer.
>
> Care to outline exactly how one goes about hiring a *good* UI
> designer? ;-)

Sure! You solicit sample designs from a dozen UI designers, then you use an
eyetracker to determine which designer's work elicited the *hotttest* heat
map.

Cheers!
-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

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