Given my interest in the field of web design, eyetracking has always intrigued me. Although I have never personally done it, I like the idea of using eyetracking to adjust elements of your web design- where things fall on the page and how to make your most important elements stand out. Although it is a little outdated now, this Mashable article about Facebook pages was one of the first things that introduced me to eyetracking.
Since I don’t know a terrible amount on the subject, I found this article to be a good foundation for the rest of the reading. It explained a little bit more about how eyetracking studies are conducted, by observing infrared light sources. Although technologies are becoming more advanced, it sounds like the model of having users wear a headset or staying completely still might yield less than completely realistic results. I’m pretty sure all I would be thinking about in that situation is how I can possibly not move my head. Just me?
The Poynter Institute studies brought in some of the real meat to eyetracking. They looked at participants reading both online and print versions of newspapers. One of the older studies, from 2003-2004, seemed to confirm some of the previously held notions I had about good web design. It mentioned that users looked at the top left of the screen most frequently (usually where the logo is placed), the bottom of web pages received modest viewing, top level navigation attracted a lot of attention etc. I also found it interesting that in one of the later studies it mentioned that large differences in reading sequences for print vs online reading.
With web design, how can we use this information to our advantage to build more effective sites? In what cases would you perform eyetracking tests on your website?