Eyetracking technology allows you to follow the visual trail of visitors on a web page. A camera built-in to the bottom of the computer screen follows eye movements and when calibrated correctly will record all eye fixations even when the person moves their head within a 1 foot radius. We can gain valuable information about what attracts people on websites. This information is important to understand because people don’t have time to review all the content you’ve so painstakingly put together on your website, so you want to make sure they do consume the most important information.
The Eyetrack III study focuses on how we read newspaper sites, but this information could help you make the most out of any text heavy web design. We reviewed the research and encourage you to read the entire study through the link provided at the bottom of this post. Following are a few tips we found most helpful in this research, but first take this quick quiz to reveal how good you are at defining where people look first on a news homepage.
You want to prioritize your homepage so that the most important information is in the upper left-hand side of the site (see image below, borrowed from the Eyetrack III study~ http://www.poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/main.htm ). This is where the visitor will look first, so something in this area must attract their attention enough to make them want to stay and see what else you have to say.
Headlines in the upper left-hand side are more powerful than an image anywhere on the homepage. Dominant headlines will attract more eye fixations than photographs. The first 2 inches of each headline get the most looks and must capture the readers attention. Font size is important. People are more likely to spend time reading a smaller font and skim quickly thru larger font.
People most often read an entire headline/blurb when presented as in the example; with the headline bold and the blurb immediately following in the same font size.
example: Web Development Services Boston MediaCorpus is an incredible web design company located just outside of Boston, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
When the headline is larger and above the blurb, people will more likely scan only the headlines on the page. “Researchers believe that it is the contrast in type size that accounts for this behavior, as well as the type size itself. When a headline is larger than its accompanying blurb text, it’s perceived as the important element of the headline-blurb block, so people appear to decide that viewing the headline is sufficient and they skip the blurb.” excerpt from Eyetrack III
example: Web Design Boston Our local Cambridge, MA web development company
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When a headline is underlined, people rarely view the blurb. “This may be related to a phenomenon that we noted throughout the testing: visual breaks — like a line or rule — discouraged people from looking at items beyond the break, like a blurb.” excerpt from Eyetrack III
example: Boston Web Development Company
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