Whether your objective is to determine what content garners the most attention on your website or if your home page design is efficient, “eye tracking” is regarded as one of the most accurate ways to measure website usability. Certainly compared to “click maps,” which simply show what web links are being clicked on, the ability to literally follow a visitor’s eye movements from an image to a headline and across and down the page is a tremendously valuable tool.
In March 2009, I wrote a two-part post discussing the benefits of eye tracking and what some of the consistent findings had been up to that point in time. It mostly focused on Jakob Nielsen’s teachings on the F-shaped pattern to UI design. The biggest catch to this technology, though, had always been the cost. That was due to the software and hardware required for the creation of the “heat map” that visually represents where a visitor to a site would direct his or her attention. Depending on the scale of your tracking efforts, the bill for such a customized research study could cost you well over $10,000.
But now there’s finally a low-cost market solution at our fingertips. I recently caught an article in Fast Company speaking to the relatively cost-effective and easy-to-use service provided by a small startup called Gaze Hawk. The shop debuted in December 2009 with their $50-a-tester eye tracking program and opened the window of opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of a research technology previously reserved for big-ticket corporate America.
Touting newly developed webcam technology and their own proprietary software, GazeHawk takes a “We’ll Take Care of Everything” ease-of-use approach to providing website usability testing for an easier-to-swallow cost. They’re not the only ones coming to market with this type of program. An open-source, open-hardware solution called Open Eyes is already making waves.
These new industry innovations are making this once five- and six-figure technology nearly “do-it-yourself” friendly. For marketers, this is just another awesome and more readily available measuring device to better understand our customers and how they think.
Share with us if you’ve taken the jump into this space and what the results were…