Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Scientific Web Design: 23 Actionable Lessons from Eye-Tracking Studies

Design tips based on eye-tracking studies ...

"Eye-tracking studies are hot in the web design world, but it can be hard to figure out how to translate the results of these studies into real design implementations. These are a few tips from eye-tracking studies that you can use to improve the design of your webpage.

1. Text attracts attention before graphics. Contrary to what you might think, the first thing users look at on a website isn’t the images. Most casual users will be coming to your site looking for information, not images, so make sure your website is designed so that the most important parts of your text are what is most prominent.

2. Initial eye movement focuses on the upper left corner of the page. It shouldn’t be surprising that users look at webpages in this way, as most computer applications are designed with the top left hand side as the main focus. You can do your website a favor by keeping this format in mind when creating a design. Remember, while you want to have a personal style, you have to keep the habits of your readers in mind if you want your site to be successful.

3. Users initially look at the top left and upper portion of the page before moving down and to the right. Users were found to generally scan webpages in the shape of an ‘F’. Make sure the important elements of your content are located in these key areas to keep readers engaged. Place headlines, subheadlines, bullet points, and highlighted text along these lines so readers will be enticed to read further.

4. Readers ignore banners. Ads may be the bread and butter of your site, but studies have shown that readers largely ignore banner ads, often focusing for only a fraction of a second. If you’re trying to make money from ads, you need to be creative in your ad placement or in the types of ads you have on your site.

5. Fancy formatting and fonts are ignored. Why? Because users assume they are ads and don’t have the information they need. In fact, studies showed that users had difficulty finding information in large colored letters formatted in this way because visual clues told them to ignore it. Keep your site streamlined and not so shiny that important elements will be glossed over."    (Continued via Virtual Hosting, Christina Laun)    [Usability Resources]

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