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Methodology Spotlight: The Benefits of Adding Eye Tracking to Usability Labs

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Methodology Spotlight: The Benefits of Adding Eye Tracking to Usability Labs

Usability Labs have long been considered a speedy, effective method of uncovering fundamental usability barriers on Websites. They are especially useful before launching a site or conducting an in-depth quantitative study. Here is a quick refresher on how Usability Labs work:

  1. Target users of a Website are invited to a research facility to participate in a usability study
  2. A moderator (from eVOC) conducts one-on-one interviews with the participants, asking them to complete tasks on the site(s) and answer questions about their experience
  3. Sessions are audio and video recorded, while clients observe the sessions from a separate room through a one-way mirror
Usability Lab
Usability Lab

What Sets Usability Labs Apart
Usability Labs are so effective because:

  1. All variables are accounted for
    • Internet connection speed, monitor resolution, and physical environment are the same for everyone
    • The moderator can control exactly which pages users explore
  2. Users’ facial expressions, physical reactions, and site behavior can all be observed
  3. The discussion guide is flexible
    • The moderator can probe on key areas on the fly
    • More specific, user-driven recommendations can be collected
  4. Usability interviews take 30-90 minutes, which exposes participants to more content than a survey would

It’s not surprising that many of our clients choose Usability; in fact, it’s unbeatable for evaluating a site’s information architecture, nomenclature, and overall navigability.

But what about effectiveness of navigation, ease of use, and information flow? Sure, Usability findings are great at illuminating these areas. But an advanced technology called Eye Tracking is now enabling us to uncover insights that, when combined with Usability, paint the most complete picture of a Website’s performance. We have found that Eye Tracking allows us to make discoveries about Websites that we never could have made doing Usability alone.

How Eye Tracking Works
So how does it work? Using a special Eye Tracking monitor that tracks participants’ eye movements, we can log exactly where users are looking as they browse each page of a Website. The data can then be visually quantified:

What Eye Tracking Tells Us
The Eye Tracking software also allows us to capture usage data, such as how long it takes users to click or complete tasks, and what percentage of users take a particular path. Here are just a few examples of the insights we can glean when we complement Usability with Eye Tracking. We can:

  • Determine what areas users overlook (e.g., advertising) and complement with usability findings to explain why
  • Calculate how long it takes users to complete tasks in different navigation designs and choose which one performs best
  • Discover if users tend to notice certain page areas early or late, and provide recommendations on prioritizing navigation and content
  • Study what paths users take as they browse a site and determine their effectiveness, as well as key differences between user segments
  • Learn how users scan information and find out the most effective content layouts

We strongly encourage any company that is planning to conduct Usability Labs to consider adding Eye Tracking, particularly to test visibility of key areas, navigation, messaging, and/or ads. To learn more, go to