The lives of UX designers would be a cakewalk if only they knew what users are thinking while they view mobile apps. Like, which part of the screen they pay more attention to, which part they tend to ignore, which color affects them in what way, and so on.
Currently, UX designers rely on a certain type of basic user psychological profiling and ‘guesswork’ in an attempt to understand user needs and the impact an interface has on the end users . Eye tracking comes as a new solution to help UX designers to accrue valuable insights on how users are visually engaging with an app (or a website).
App development is an arduous process and an expensive affair. The number of mobile apps available online is a staggering 4.1 million and growing. Unfortunately, the attention span of users is becoming critically less, with their patience wearing off in just a few seconds. So, User Experience (UX) is a determining factor in holding users attention by creating lucid flows that help them effortlessly browse the product to reach their goals.
Does eye tracking help UX designers to up their game?
There is a lot of buzz around the new eye tracking technology, and a lot of talk around Tobii, a Swedish company, which sells eye tracking products and services. But it is not Tobii, it is the technology that we are after. Though the ‘eye tracking’ tools sounds quite technical, it is widely used as a research tool. It is a technology that is primarily used to track a person’s eye movement. On a typical set up, the eye tracking tool is connected to a computer, or a smart device, and (one or several) cameras track the movement of the eyes. These movements are recorded and then, using near infrared illuminators and advanced algorithms, the tool will present and output highlighting the areas where the observers’ gaze had fallen.
Image source: eyesdecide.com
Is Eye tracking an important aspect of UX Testing?
Building a mobile app is a time consuming process and an expensive affair. This is where a UX designer’s role becomes critical in understanding the user needs and making the right ‘guesswork’ on which interface will work and which won’t. If this guesswork goes wrong, a lot of time and money is wasted. Since users attention is a subconscious and a visual thing, the traditional testing methods may not be as effective as eye tracking in understanding which areas the users have paid attention to within a screen or a page.
Secondly, both the UX designers and the app development team should work more or less in the same speed. If they don’t, especially in an agile environment, the workflow gets disrupted leading to technical trade-offs.
The third and the most important reason where traditional testing tools not matching up to the new eye tracking testing model is accuracy. Traditional testing tools (methods) such as Surveys, Interviews, Click Tracking and Hover metrics don’t yield accurate results. Miscommunication and misrepresentation is common among Survey and Interviews, which can lead to inaccurate insights. The Click Tracking and Hover Metrics are better methods, but they are not flawless. For example, click tracking can track how many clicks on CTA (Call To Action) button, but you have no way of knowing which text the users were reading or looking at.
Images source: usability.gov
The above screen with heat map illuminates the areas a visitor paid attention to.
Images source: usability.gov
The same screen showing different insights. The lines denote the eye movement pathways, and the red circles are areas of focus in order.
These insights make eye tracking technology more pragmatic than just being ostentatious. Armed with these information, and through continuous testing, the UX designers can precisely pinpoint strong and weak areas, and can resolve the pressing issues quickly and efficiently saving huge amount of time.
Testing through Eye Tracking
If designing an attractive interface is the objective of a UI designer; showcasing that design in a clear flow, and making it effortlessly accessible to the users is the objective of a UX designer. Many new eye tracking tool come with an interactive or a mock-up version of the app with the aid of a mobile simulators or a design platform such as InVision to help UX designers carry out effective testing of the application. These mock-up versions allow the UX team to see where the test users or participants have looked at within the screen, and also determine the visibility and accessibility levels of text, menus, bars, colors and other elements.
Plunging further deep, today’s eye tracking tools can even recognize if a user is just skimming, or is they really focused on a specific content. In order to to establish this, the technology takes two approaches – Saccade and Fixation.
Saccade: Here, the tracking determines whether the user’s pupils just rove over the UI elements without paying attention to a particular item.
Fixation: Here, the tool captures details of whether or not a user’s pupils has lingered over an element long enough to process it.
1. Early concept testing in progress
2. Pre launch UX optimization and improvement
Eye Tracking Capabilities and Limitations
Before you opt for the eye tracking technology, it is important to consider its cost:benefit ratio. Eye tracking might or might not be expensive, but the benefits you reap should not be less than your cost. Here is a list of capabilities and limitations of eye tracking to help determine how much eye tracking could help your business.
We at Ideaplunge are pushing the boundaries by incorporating the most up-to-date and future-ready tech solutions to help businesses achieve their goals. Our specialization mobile app include android app development, iOS app development, Salesforce solutions, UI/UX designing, CMS and Web solutions. With clients located in seven different countries, Ideaplunge is one of the fast-growing mobile app development companies in Bangalore.
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