Etre a usability company who have an eye tracking device, have been using it to study how users use a home page, if they’re just browsing. While the group testing the sites were a little more homogeneous than one might expect for sites such as Amazon,  (18-40; experienced Internet users ) the results seem to be useful

The software looks at how long users fixate on particular areas of the page. They also spoke to the users, to try to work out, for example, if they spent a long time on a particular area because it was interesting, or because it was confusing.  All sites had far fewer users that ventured “below the fold” than those that browsed above it; however, Amazon did have a few hotspots a long way down the page (DVD erotica being one!)

They’ve attempted to draw some conclusions – some seem a little contradictory, for example, both Dixons & Currys have their logo in the expected top left. Those didn’t attract much notice. Amazon, on the other hand, had a special offer there (free DVD rentals); which attracted much more interest. What seemed to be happening was that people were catching it in their periperhal vision – so, if it was a logo as expected, then they didn’t check. However, if it seemed more interesting (a special offer), then it attracted more interest. The spring bargains on the top right of  Amazon’s page wasn’t of so much interest. Of course, it could also be that free DVD rental is inherently more interesting than cheap books, so people were studying it.

The rest of Etre’s site seems useful, though I’ve just run their accessibility checker & got a different result from others that I’ve run.

They’ve put the information up really to advertise their system, but it’s useful to see what can be done, and quite a lot can be learnt from the information that they’ve provided.

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