For the 6th EstCHI meetup on March 31st, the design community of professionals invited Fernando Loizides to talk about tackling information architecture challenges with eye-tracking. Fernando is a research fellow at the Cyprus Interaction Lab at Cyprus University of Technology, a freelance user experience consultant and currently a 6 month visiting lecturer at the Interaction Design Laboratory at Tallinn University. The talk was about how to utilize information architecture and eye-tracking to create powerful designs and evaluations.
Have you ever been to a building for the first time and could not find toilet? Have you ever tried to find contact details on a web page and failed to find them? The reason why it happens is bad information architecture. If your website visitors do not know what is your website about or what to do, you will lose your users because they feel frustration. It even may cause a business critical disaster. Therefore, you must carefully consider which information should be presented and how it should be presented. By the way, as exceptions, it is fine to put tons of information in one page for expert users such as gamers and traders since they need all of the information.
Now, the question is where on a page should you put important information you want to show or your users want to see? Do not ask the users but observe them by using eye-tracking because what people say they do are mostly different from what actually they do. Eye-tracking has been used for about 100 years to measure the positions and movements of people’s eyes. It allows you to get information of fixations and saccades.
There are mainly 2 types of eye-trackers: glasses and stationary eye-trackers. With eye-tracking glasses, you can know actual user behaviours such as how many minutes he stared at that part. In that way the usability issues become clear, although it is time-consuming to analyse the data. Moreover, it is good for 3D. He gave also an example of how a person with eye-tracking glasses uses a bicycle he has never used before, and it became clear that the driver’s attention got distracted when he changed the gear or passengers passed by him.
Stationary eye-trackers are non-invasive and faster to do data analysis compared to the glasses. You can see the result as heat map and know where most users watched longer time. There is one useful tips for you based on the eye-tracking researches. Put important information as “F” shape on your webpage! Many researches show that users often see webpages in “F” shape pattern.
Fernando emphasized that his interface prototype of digital library project based on eye-tracking was tested and concluded as successful prototype in terms of usability.
By the way, glasses or contact lens generally do not affect when you use eye-tracking although using contact lens instead of glasses are preferable.We hope everyone enjoyed the event and will come to next EstCHI event in May. If you want to try the eye-trackers out, then you can come to the Interaction Design Laboratory at Tallinn University