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The Sensual Art of Eye Tracking: Making Eye Contact, The Heat of the Moment  

:: Thursday, March 17, 2005 ::

I realize that my fan club consists of just 5 people, but my reaction to an article written by Chris Sherman, for Search Day, has me feeling like chopped liver.

You see, suddenly, eye tracking studies are all the rage and because of them, some of the topics I've been writing about for years, both here and in my articles, is suddenly hip.

In today's Just Because Search Engines See Content Doesn't Mean Users Will, by Chris Sherman, (who by the way, is a nice man who I like very much and have had the extreme pleasure of meeting. So I won't chop his head off.), can be found this,

"Based on a number of studies with pages from major web sites, creating search engine friendly web sites isn't enough. It's also important to make sure your pages are designed so that once users arrive on your site via a search engine they see and do what you want them to."

Chris got everyone in SEO-land's attention, too, with this additional piece, Lessons Learned from Eye Tracking Studies

It's true. Always has been. Humans have eyes and search engines have bots.

They operate differently. For starters, there's an infinite set of variables when it comes to your end-user. Some people are viewing web pages crouched in their cube when the boss isn't looking, while others are awake at 2am with insomnia and casually browsing to kill time. These two people will look at your web pages differently, and "see" things in varying patterns, based on things like their environment, physical limitations, etc. Even at this, there are common trends, and we can use this information when planning web page designs.

Search engine bots are faced with funky code, scripts, images, animated spinning things, and invisible text repeated 3000 times. How they respond and "read" this mess plays a part in what they do with your web pages, including what is displayed for your web site description, that people will see, and which should convince them to go to your site.

Now, a new blog, called Eyetools Research will not only tell you more about eyetracking, but how you can resell their software.

Eye tracking software present "heat maps" that help analyze where people are looking and for how long. Finally, a reason to stare and not be considered rude for doing so. What I'm not sure about yet is if they can calculate different eye sight variables into their results, so that you can tell how someone who wears reading glasses responds to and reads your web site vs. those with perfect vision. Or, if there are gender differences in how we read pages.

All in all, we now have another way of figuring out what works and what doesn't and can apply it to our own web sites. However, please remember this! What works on one site doesn't mean it will work on yours. Always test to verify anything new you implement, just to be sure it's the right fit.

This is why we date before getting married. Same thing.


Related

Why Search Engine Marketing Has A Passion for Web Site Usability.

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 3/17/2005 03:33:00 PM

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