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Eye Tracking

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Eye tracking is the process of measuring either the point of gaze or the motion of an eye relative to the head. An eye tracker is a device for measuring eye positions and eye movements. Eye trackers are used in usability testing, research on the visual system, in psychology, in cognitive linguistics and in product design.



The Best of Eyetrack III: What We Saw When We Looked Through Their Eyes

In Eyetrack III, we observed 46 people for one hour as their eyes followed mock news websites and real multimedia content. In this article we'll provide an overview of what we observed.

Outing, Steve and Laura Ruel. Eyetrack III. Articles>Usability>Methods>Eye Tracking


A Breadth-First Survey of Eye Tracking Applications   (PDF)

Eye tracking applications are surveyed in a breadth-first manner, reporting on work from the following domains: Neuroscience, Psychology, Industrial Engineering and Human Factors, Marketing/Advertising, and Computer Science. Following a review of traditionally diagnostic uses, emphasis is placed on interactive applications, differentiating between selective and gaze-contingent approaches.

Duchowski, Andrew T. Lunds Universitet (2002). Articles>Software>Usability>Eye Tracking


A Brief History of Eye-Tracking

Ever notice how some websites seem to just flow, while others feel harder to navigate? There are many contributing factors in building usable web sites and applications, but one of the most interesting areas of research must be eye-tracking. Today, eye-tracking is used heavily by marketing groups to craft effective designs in advertising, and by usability researchers to define the optimum user experience. This technology is anything but new though. In fact, eye-tracking goes all the way back to the 1800’s.

Leggett, David. UX Booth (2010). Articles>Usability>History>Eye Tracking


Coming to the Aid of the Search Party

There is a definite logic to getting your company its critical share of search-engine visibility.

Miller, Nick. Sydney Morning Herald (2006). Articles>Usability>Search>Eye Tracking


A Comparison of Eye Tracking Tools in Usability Testing  (link broken)   (PDF)

Eye tracking tools have recently attracted attention from usability professionals. Eye tracking offers usability researchers a new way to identify very fine-grained behaviors that indicate usability problems. This paper is a comparison of different types of eye tracking tools and their potential usefulness in usability testing. Specifically, the paper examines the cost of the systems, system types, sampling rate, and some system limitations. The paper aims to provide a basic introduction to technical communicators who are considering adding an eye- tracking system to their toolkit.

DeSantis, Rich, Quan Zhou and Judith A. Ramey. STC Proceedings (2005). Articles>Usability>Testing>Eye Tracking


Evaluating the Usability of Search Forms Using Eyetracking: A Practical Approach

The usability of forms is often massively important to the overall usability of a Web site. That's why we decided to subject some of these forms to a quick round of eyetracking tests and have analyzed the resulting data to better understand what makes Web forms usable--or unusable.

Penzo, Matteo. UXmatters (2006). Design>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Examining the Order Effect of Website Navigation Menus With Eye Tracking   (peer-reviewed)

We analysed the eye-tracking data of 147 participants as they used a total of 15 separate website navigation menus to complete key activities. The hypotheses for this study were that (a) the psychological phenomenon of the order effect would manifest in that items at either end of a menu would be located more quickly than those in the middle and (b) that the items that were relevant to completing the user’s tasks would be located more quickly through peripheral visual identification of these items. Although items relevant to the user’s task were acquired 1.8 seconds faster on average, both of the hypotheses were rejected as no statistically significant patterns were found. It was concluded that each user was likely to have his or her own searching behaviour and this could be affected by other factors such as the graphic design of the menu.

DeWitt, Alex J. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Eye Gaze Patterns while Searching vs. Browsing a Website

This article discusses users' visual scan paths of web pages containing text and/or pictures while conducting browsing and searching tasks. User performance on three usability tasks on an e-commerce website is described. Results show that users follow a fairly uniform scan path when browsing through pictures, and a more random path while specifically searching through them. Additionally, users appeared to follow Nielsen's 'F' pattern (2006) while both browsing and searching through text-based pages.

Shrestha, Sav and Kelsi Lenz. Usability News (2007). Articles>Usability>Testing>Eye Tracking


Eye Gaze Tracking Techniques for Interactive Applications   (members only)

This paper presents a review of eye gaze tracking technology and focuses on recent advancements that might facilitate its use in general computer applications. Early eye gaze tracking devices were appropriate for scientific exploration in controlled environments. Although it has been thought for long that they have the potential to become important computer input devices as well, the technology still lacks important usability requirements that hinders its applicability. We present a detailed description of the pupil/corneal reflection technique due to its claimed usability advantages, and show that this method is still not quite appropriate for general interactive applications. Finally, we present several recent techniques for remote eye gaze tracking with improved usability. These new solutions simplify or eliminate the calibration procedure and allow free head motion.

Morimoto, Carlos H. and Marcio R.M. Mimica. Computer Vision and Image Understanding (2005). Articles>Usability>Methods>Eye Tracking


Eye Movement Patterns on Single and Dual-Column Web Pages

This study examines eye movement patterns of users browsing or searching a 1-column and 2-column news article on a web page. The results show a higher number of fixations for information in the second column of an article than for the same information in the lower portion of a single column. In addition, the typical "F" pattern appeared in the left column of the 2-column layout, but not in the right column. Users also fixated more on other page elements, such as ads, when they were browsing than when they were searching.

Shrestha, Sav and Justin W. Owens. Usability News (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Eye Tracking  (link broken)

Eye tracking is a technique used in cognitive science, psychology (notably psycholinguistics), human-computer interaction (HCI), marketing research, medical research, and other areas. The most widely used current designs are video based eye trackers. A camera focuses on one or both eyes and records their movement as the viewer looks at some kind of stimulus. Most modern eye-trackers use contrast to locate the center of the pupil and use infrared and near-infrared non-collumnated light to create a corneal reflection (CR). The vector between these two features can be used to compute gaze intersection with a surface after a simple calibration for an individual.

Wikipedia. Articles>Usability>Methods>Eye Tracking


Eye Tracking and Web Usability: A Good Fit?  (link broken)

Since its inception, eye tracking has been employed by cognitive scientists to study reading, learning, attention, and neurology; by marketers to examine the effectiveness of ad and package designs; and by human factors engineers to guide automotive and airplane cockpit design. These and other disciplines have had great success leveraging eye tracking as a behavioral research method and to inform the design of communications and interactions. Recently, as eye tracking technology has become more affordable and accessible, academics, research suppliers, and eye tracking equipment makers have been experimenting with applying eye tracking to behavioral research in new domains. On the one hand, it makes intuitive sense that knowing what people look at (or don’t look at) on a webpage would be useful in assessing the usability and effectiveness of that page. However, as is the case with many qualitative research methods, it has proven difficult to completely validate this assumption. Even if the methodology adds value to traditional usability testing, some usability practitioners have argued that this value is not justified by the additional cost of the eye tracking equipment, software, and training. This assertion is also difficult to prove or disprove, so it’s still the subject of debate.

Gould, Nick and Jesse Zolna. UX Magazine (2010). Articles>Usability>Web Design>Eye Tracking


Eye Tracking in Human-Computer Interaction and Usability Research: Current Status and Future Prospects   (PDF)

Discusses the various opportunities for eye-movement studies in future HCI research, and details some of the challenges that need to be overcome to enable effective application of the technique in studying the complexities of advanced interactive-system use.

Poole, Alex and Linden J. Ball. Alex Poole (2004). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Eye Tracking


Eye Tracking in Usability Testing: Is It Worthwhile?  (link broken)   (PDF)

The bottom line is how to ensure the customer that eye tracking provides additional value for their money. If we do numerical analysis in addition to video analysis, the need for extra time is remarkable and the analysis will become more expensive. To reduce analysis time we need automated special software and therefore we are currently developing scan path visualization software in which we include a new fixation recognition algorithm.

Aaltonen, Antti. ACM SIGCHI (1999). Articles>Usability>Testing>Eye Tracking


Eye Tracking: Eye Candy vs. I Can Do

Eye tracking is definitely not a magic bullet or 'the closest thing to mind reading'. It does however serve as both a great piece of eye candy for senior executives with little time and is very powerful in helping come up with the most effective page design.

McElhaw, Mark. Webcredible (2007). Design>Usability>Methods>Eye Tracking


Eye-Tracking Studies: Usability Holy Grail?

The reality is that eye-tracking, while valuable, doesn't make usability testing any more powerful. It's what you do with the observations and the usability test data that counts.

Spillers, Frank. Demystifying Usability (2004). Articles>Usability>Methods>Eye Tracking


Eyes Top Left: Lessons from Eyetrack III

Where do your eyes go when you read articles on the Web? What do you notice, and what do you miss? The upper left quarter of the screen gets the most attention, according to the Eyetrack III research of The Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media, and Eyetools.

McAlpine, Rachel. Quality Web Content (2005). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Eye Tracking


Eyetools, Enquiro, and Did-it uncover Search's Golden Triangle

The vast majority of eye tracking activity during a search happens in a triangle at the top of the search results page indicating that the areas of maximum interest create a 'golden triangle.'

Edwards, Greg. Eyetools (2005). Design>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Eyetracking: Is It Worth It?

It is easy to get excited about eyetracking. Seeing where people look while using your Web site, Web application, or software product sounds like an opportunity to get amazing insights into their user experience. But eyetracking is expensive and requires extra effort and specialized knowledge. The heat maps and other visualizations certainly look impressive, but what can you really learn from them? After using eyetracking for the first time, many find that it is not easy to know how to analyze the visualizations and make conclusions from them. Does eyetracking really provide any additional insights you would not have discovered anyway through traditional usability testing? Does the value of eyetracking outweigh its limitations? This article will discuss and answer these questions.

Ross, Jim. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Usability>Testing>Eye Tracking


F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content

Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2006). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Helping Businesses Evaluate Their Internet Presence   (members only)

To ensure that their Web sites are conveying the intended image, a growing list of businesses, including Avis Rent A Car System, McDonald's, Staples and Holiday Inn, are turning to companies that test usability and brand opinion for help. These companies conduct surveys and focus groups and even use high-technology eye-tracking devices to uncover how customers use a Web site and how their experiences affect feelings about the parent company.

Bannan, Karen. New York Times, The (2002). Design>Usability>Assessment>Eye Tracking


Horizontal Attention Leans Left

Web users spend 69% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 30% viewing the right half. A conventional layout is thus more likely to make sites profitable.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Hot, Hot, Hot: Using Heat Maps to Improve Usability

For a website, a heat map is a graphical representation of where visitors interact with the page. The more interaction (i.e., clicks) the "hotter" that area is. This is especially useful in determining what parts of the page attract the most visitors.

Sapir, Rick. Usability Interface (2009). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Eye Tracking


Hotspots and Hyperlinks: Using Eye-Tracking to Supplement Usability Testing

This article discusses how eye-tracking can be used to supplement traditional usability test measures. User performance on two usability tasks with three e-commerce websites is described. Results show that eye-tracking data can be used to better understand how users initiate a search for a targeted link or web object. Frequency, duration and order of visual attention to Areas of Interest (AOIs) in particular are informative as supplemental information to standard usability testing in understanding user expectations and making design recommendations.

Russell, Mark C. uiGarden (2006). Articles>Usability>Testing>Eye Tracking


Hotspots and Hyperlinks: Using Eye-Tracking to Supplement Usability Testing

This article discusses how eye-tracking can be used to supplement traditional usability test measures. User performance on two usability tasks with three e-commerce websites is described. Results show that eye-tracking data can be used to better understand how users initiate a search for a targeted link or web object. Frequency, duration and order of visual attention to Areas of Interest (AOIs) in particular are informative as supplemental information to standard usability testing in understanding user expectations and making design recommendations.

Russell, Mark C. Usability News (2005). Articles>Usability>Testing>Eye Tracking



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