Using Eye Tracking to Compare Web Page Designs: A Case Study


A proposed design for the American Society of Clinical Oncology
(ASCO) Web site was evaluated against the original design in terms of the
ease with which the right starting points for key tasks were located and
processed. This report focuses on the eye tracking methodology that accompanied
other conventional usability practices used in the evaluation. Twelve ASCO
members were asked to complete several search tasks using each design. Performance
measures such as click accuracy and time on task were supplemented with
eye movements which allowed for an assessment of the processes
that led to both the failures and the successes. The report details three
task examples in which eye tracking helped diagnose errors and identify
the better of the two designs (and the reasons for its superiority) when
both were equally highly successful. Advantages and limitations of the application
of eye tracking to design comparison are also discussed.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • One of the ways eye tracking can benefit user experience research is
    by providing additional measures that help compare alternative designs
    of the same interface.
  • Time on task and error rate do not always tell the whole story. Eye
    movements help reveal the process, often not fully conscious,
    that led to these observable outcomes.
  • Eye tracking should be used when a detailed evaluation of visual search
    is required to make recommendations. The number of times the target was
    looked at and the number of fixations prior to the first fixation on the
    target provide information about the attention deployment stage of search
    (Did users see the target? Did they have trouble locating it?) and about
    the target processing stage (Did users have difficulties comprehending
    the target?).
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