Thursday, June 25, 2009

Official Google Blog: Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye

Official Google Blog: Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye

Imagine that you need a refresher on how to tie a tie. So, you decide to type [how to tie a tie] into the Google search box. Which of these results would you choose?Where did your eyes go first when you saw the results page? Did they go directly to the title of the first result? Did you first check the terms in boldface to see if the results really talk about tying a tie? Or maybe the images captured your attention and drew your eyes to them?You might find it difficult to answer these questions. You probably did not pay attention to where you were looking on the page and you most likely only used a few seconds to visually scan the results. Our User Experience Research team has found that people evaluate the search results page so quickly that they make most of their decisions unconsciously. To help us get some insight into this split-second decision-making process, we use eye-tracking equipment in our usability labs. This lets us see how our study participants scan the search results page, and is the next best thing to actually being able to read their minds. Of course, eye-tracking does not really tell us what they are thinking, but it gives us a good idea of which parts of the page they are thinking about.To see what the eye-tracking data we collect looks like, let's go back to the results page we got for the query [how to tie a tie]. The following video clip shows in real time how a participant in our study scanned the page. And yes, seriously — the video is in real time! That's how fast the eyes move when scanning a page. The larger the dot gets, the longer the users' eye pauses looking at that specific location.

More about this:

Eye tracking banners (Realeyes study)

by Realeyes: Eye tracking banners

Eye tracking news: iMotions tool (SMI)

from June 24, 2009
iMotions, a world leader in emotion metrics software and SensoMotoric Instruments GmbH (SMI), a world leader in eye tracking solutions have, after extensive integration and field-testing, integrated their flagship products, iMotions - Emotion Tool® and SMI’s iView X™ RED. The combined solution is now available from iMotions for the FMCG and Market Research Industries. Emotion Tool clients currently include many world-leading opinion leaders within the FMCG industry.
SMI’s award winning iView X™ RED remote eye tracker is an non-intrusive and accurate eye tracking system that allows iMotions - Emotion Tool® users to assess the impact of advertising, brand label designs, package designs and other relevant marketing material on flexible multiple-size screens ranging from 19’’ monitors to large-scale projections with high accuracy and easy-to-use setups. The iView X™ RED remote eye tracker has been continuously developed on the basis of SMI’s 18-year experience creating high-performance research and medical measurement solutions.
“The SMI iView X™ RED further broadens the scope of our solutions and expands the market opportunity. We focus on delivering our high profile clients the best solutions in the market. The outstanding quality of SMI’s technologies fits perfectly with our customer driven approach, where the client should have plug and play possibilities without any hassle. We are excited to now support the eye trackers from SMI and Tobii, the two world leading manufacturers, ”explains Peter Hartzbech, CEO of iMotions.“Our eye tracker provides a strong technological fundament for Emotion Tool® and a reliable and versatile solution for iMotions’ customers. We are proud to add iMotions, the widely respected pioneer in objective emotion measurement, to the range of high profile OEM partners of SMI and thereby expand our market coverage for the FMCG and Market Research Industries” says Eberhard Schmidt, Managing Director of SMI.About iMotions ( – Emotion Technology A/S is the developer of Emotion Tool®, the world’s first objective, non-intrusive, reliable software to measure human emotional response to visual stimuli such as packaging and print ads. The software, which also measures visual attention (eye tracking), uses data from world leading eye tracking monitors. iMotions was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark and have additional offices in Hyderabad, India and Boston, USA.About SMI ( Instruments GmbH (SMI) is a world leader in dedicated computer vision applications, developing and marketing eye & gaze tracking systems and OEM solutions for a wide range of applications such as market and consumer research, usability and ergonomics, HCI, psychology, neurology and ophthalmology. SMI serves customers around the globe from offices in Teltow, Germany and Boston, USA, backed by a network of trusted local partners in many countries.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Using eye tracking to enhance sales and usability

Eye tracking is a tool which tracks your eye movements as you navigate through pages. It has been around for a number of years and the usefulness of this knowledge is incredible. Let me give you a good example.

In this case look how many people looked at the big red “SALE” banner in the top images compared to the green banner below. Not a single person looked at the red sale banner! That alone is interesting but now look at how this one simple banner change affected the top navigation – it’s completly altered the way people navigate the site!
Let me say that last bit again: By changing a BANNER Virgin radically altered user NAVIGATION. I bet no-one saw that coming, I know I didn’t when I first started using this knowledge. This is why testing is so important. You’re sat there tinkering with one part of the page when the change actually alters the way the user navigates your site. By understanding how eye-tracking works and looking at results you can start to understand how a visitor will journey through your site.
Combine this with the other tools and you can actually CONTROL the journey for the majority of people coming to the site.
Don’t believe me? Let’s try this:
I want you think your James Bond and you want to buy some lock picking tools from Devon Locks (who said this wouldn’t be cool!). Visit right now! Don’t look any further because if you do you will skew your results. Go now!
Ok, if you’re in the 86% of visitors I’ve targeted you pretty much did exactly this:
You skipped the header and yours eyes first saw the logo of the 2 men. You completely ignored all the header and focused straight on that 2 men logo. You still ignored the header and next looked at the big text “I need tools for”. You then looked, read and digested all 4 graphic links because you’re here to buy so that was always going to be where I focused your eyes.
If you were still in your “looking for tools” mode you probably read the H1 header text just below the 4 images but only 65% of you did. Again you probably read the sentence just below the header but you would have speed read it if you did. Now the cool part. Everywhere on the page you probably speed read EXCEPT for the first 3 bullets which you read in FULL. You may have read all 5 in full but in all honesty it was a little too much text and the top 3 are the only ones I really want people to see.
At that point you probably saw the YouTube logo but came back here. Everything below the YouTube logo is fluff to balance the page.
So hopefully you’re suitably impressed and want to know how I did it.
Headers – The only time people look at headers is when they want to know they are in the right place (logo), or they want to contact the site and are looking for a phone number of email address. Although I have text up there it is mainly for search engines. Virtually no-one looks at the header anymore for any length of time because all sites offer the same information so people associate headers with contacting and logos.
So because most of us ignore the header we start to read the page as we would a book – Top left to right. This is often called the “F” shape pattern. If you look at Devon Locks again you should be able to spot the “F” shape pattern in the design.
Content – Your eyes were first drawn to the gold 2 men because it’s pretty big, it’s unusual and because it is human shaped which we tend to respond more to images if they take on a human shape. The reason it’s there is to do exactly that; get your attention because I want your eyes exactly at the point to start your “F pattern” viewing. Immediately to the right of the men is some nice big text “I need tools for”. So now I’ve controlled where you start viewing and I’ve offered an instant solution to the question “where do I go to buy them”. I have nothing left on the page to confuse the visitor (like right hand content) so the only place to go now is down…exactly at the point I want you! The images in the four boxes are so sub-consciously whatever tool you came here for I have the 3 options straight in front of you plus a spare for any help questions you might have.
In case they need a little more help I have those bullets below. Why did you read the bullets but skimmed most other bits? Because you were always going to be 126% more likely to read the bullets because they are short, to the point and sub-consciously we don’t tend to skim bullets… 126% less likely. Even if you do read those bullets you can’t escape those big buttons ready to take you to the next level of the journey.
On this site I have a bounce rate of 14% on the home page and it goes down to 9% on other level 1’s. Now 14% is pretty much as low as I can go but I would be very surprised if many e-commerce sites could manage that kind of bounce rate. That’s what happens when the designer gets FULL control over the design!
So how do you utlise this tool? I’m afraid the answer is; not easily. Unless you work for a large company there is only one way. It isn’t as good as the real thing but it still helps: get as much online research as you possibly can. Get as many images of these results as possible.
As a poor mans eye tracking you could also get friends and family to visit sites whilst you stand beside them and let them point out what they are looking at and why. It isn’t fool-proof but it does help build a mental map in your mind of why users do certain things but more importantly it’s what they’re missing! Over time you can train your mind to view as the user would.

Eye tracking emails: Realeyes usability test

Eye tracking emails - Realeyes usability test

Eye tracking history by Wikipedia

Eye tracking history by Wikipedia
In the 1800s, studies of eye movements were made using direct observations.
In 1879 in Paris, Louis Émile Javal observed that reading does not involve a smooth sweeping of the eyes along the text, as previously assumed, but a series of short stops (called fixations) and quick saccades.[1] This observation raised important questions about reading, which were explored during the 1900s: On which words do the eyes stop? For how long? When does it regress back to already seen words?

An example of fixations and saccades over text. This is the typical pattern of eye movements during reading. The eyes never move smoothly over still text.
Edmund Huey[2] built an early eye tracker, using a sort of contact lens with a hole for the pupil. The lens was connected to an aluminum pointer that moved in response to the movements of the eye. Huey studied and quantified regressions (only a small proportion of saccades are regressions), and show that some words in a sentence are not fixated.
The first non-intrusive eye trackers were built by Guy Thomas Buswell in Chicago, using beams of light that were reflected on the eye and then recording them on film. Buswell made systematic studies into reading[3] and picture viewing[4].
In the 1950s, Alfred L. Yarbus[5] did important eye tracking research and his 1967 book is one of the most quoted eye tracking publications ever. For example he showed the task given to a subject has a very large influence on the subject's eye movements. He also wrote about the relation between fixations and interest:
"All the records (…) show conclusively that the character of the eye movements is either completely independent of or only very slightly dependent on the material of the picture and how it was made, provided that it is flat or nearly flat." [6] The cyclical pattern in the examination of pictures "is dependent not only on what is shown on the picture, but also on the problem facing the observer and the information that he hopes to gain from the picture." [7]

This study by Yarbus (1967) is often referred to as evidence on how the task given to a person influences his or her eye movements.
"Records of eye movements show that the observer's attention is usually held only by certain elements of the picture. (…) Eye movements reflect the human thought processes; so the observer's thought may be followed to some extent from records of eye movements (the thought accompanying the examination of the particular object). It is easy to determine from these records which elements attract the observer's eye (and, consequently, his thought), in what order, and how often." [8]
"The observer's attention is frequently drawn to elements which do not give important information but which, in his opinion, may do so. Often an observer will focus his attention on elements that are unusual in the particular circumstances, unfamiliar, incomprehensible, and so on." [9]
"(…) when changing its points of fixation, the observer's eye repeatedly returns to the same elements of the picture. Additional time spent on perception is not used to examine the secondary elements, but to reexamine the most important elements." [10]

This study by Hunziker (1970)[11]on eye tracking in problem solving used simple 8 mm film to track eye movements by filming the subject through a glass plate on which the visual problem was displayed. To view a slow motion movie of the eye tracking in problem solving click: for details of the study:
In the 1970s, eye tracking research expanded rapidly, particularly reading research. A good overview of the research in this period is given by Rayner.[12].
In 1980, Just and Carpenter [13] formulated the influential Strong eye-mind Hypothesis, the hypothesis that "there is no appreciable lag between what is fixated and what is processed". If this hypothesis is correct, then when a subject looks at a word or object, he or she also thinks about (process cognitively), and for exactly as long as the recorded fixation. The hypothesis is too often today taken for granted by beginning eye tracker researchers.
During the 1980s, the eye-mind hypothesis was often questioned in light of covert attention,[14] [15] the attention to something that one is not looking at, which people often do. If covert attention is common during eye tracking recordings, the resulting scan path and fixation patterns would often show not where our attention has been, but only where the eye has been looking, and so eye tracking would not indicate cognitive processing.
According to Hoffman, [16] current consensus is that visual attention is always slightly (100 to 250 ms) ahead of the eye. But as soon as attention moves to a new position, the eyes will want to follow.[17]

We still cannot infer specific cognitive processes directly from a fixation on a particular object in a scene.[18] For instance, a fixation on a face in a picture may indicate recognition, liking, dislike, puzzlement etc. Therefore eye tracking is often coupled with other methodologies, such as introspective verbal protocols.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Eye tracking studies: Realeyes eye tracking videos

Eye tracking studies: Realeyes eye tracking videos

Eye tracking video of IKEA website

Eye tracking video on User on Samsung website

Eye Tracking Video on User on the Sony Ericsson website

Eye Tracking video of a user on the American Express Website

Eye tracking study: Twitter eye tracked by an expert and a beginner

Eye tracking study: Twitter eye tracked by an expert and a beginner



Interesting: Baby Eye Tracking :)

Baby Eye Tracking Gaze Replay at ECVP 2007

Interesting: EEG brain map with Eye tracking

EEG Brain map, GSR and Eye Tracking during Gaming

Eye tracking conference at EyetrackUX 2009 - Realeyes

Eye tracking conference at EyetrackUX 2009

Eye tracking - Soldat

Eye tracking study: Soldat

Eye tracking study: 3F eyetrack - svage leasere

Eye tracking study (video)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

You click where you look

via Sendtec by Eyetools

The above graph shows an important correlation between increased link viewing and the probability of being clicked. The plot shows the percentage of valid clicks recorded from all participants as a function of percentage viewing behavior during the first presentation of a search result listing. The page elements which received the most clicks were those seen by the most users. As user viewing decreased, so did the number of clicks. The data was fit with an exponential function (solid black line) which had a correlation coefficient of 0.95. This means that decreases in viewing will have a disproportionately large negative impact on click-through.A number of other studies have explored various factors which influence a user’s decision to click including link text, description, and perceived link relevance. Our study shows that percent user viewing can be an excellent predictor of user click behavior for online searches. Our study supports the logic that users must first see a link before they can make selections based on text descriptions or relevance. There are many factors which contribute to whether or not a user decides to select a link, but all things considered, eye tracking data is a reliable and efficient way of understanding why people do and do not click.It is important to note that this data is specific to search results and should not be used in conversation about standard webpages. Eyetracking has proven to be very helpful in directing redesigns of web pages, landing pages, and emails with great increases in conversion rates, but this data presented here is specific to search result pages and should not be generalized to other pages. DetailsClicks were considered valid if the click would have produced a response from a link, image, textbox, or button element on the search results page. Clicks in whitespace areas were excluded from this analysis. We analyzed 1185 valid clicks from our study.Percentage viewing was defined as the heatmap value of each element. Each page element was assigned its highest heatmap value regardless of the location of the click. For example a link may have read:Digital Camera Reviews Find the Best Digital Cameras - News & Reviews.The link's highest heatmap value of 65% viewing may have been centered over the words "Digital Camera Reviews", but a user may have clicked off to the side on the words "News &". Although only 45% of users may have read the entire link, 65% of participants saw the page element. All clicks on this link would have been placed in the 60-79% viewing bin. Clicking off to the right is a common behavior we have observed many times when studying search result interactions.

Eye tracking analysis: WordCraft III, House of the Dead

Eye tracking analysis: House of Death

Eye tracking analysis: WordCraft III