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What is eye-tracking?

Eye-tracking refers to methods used to record and evaluate the eye movements of test persons. By means of this eye tracking of users, research is conducted in the area of user experience, among others. The results of the eye-tracking are often displayed in heat maps.

  • Registers the eye movements of users
  • Provides information on the use of websites and applications
  • Helps to explore the user experience

This is how eye-tracking works

The eye movements of test persons or users in relation to a defined surface are to be registered by eye tracking. The results then provide information about the usability, e.g. of user programs or websites. How is visual information processed? The answer is provided by so-called eye trackers. While this technology has been used in medicine for some time, it is still relatively new in neuro- and online marketing. What is of particular interest here is where the eyes stop and where the gaze wanders back and forth or returns. Eye-tracking can clearly show whether test persons recognize certain points (such as a button) on screens or websites. This is especially important for landing pages, as the first few seconds in the orientation phase after the page is called up are always crucial. Because essential information, as well as the individual relevance in general, should be recognized by the users as soon as possible. The quicker this is achieved, the higher the probability of conversion. While the original eye tracking in medicine still used contact lenses, nowadays various tools in the form of software and hardware are used. For example, glasses are available as portable eye trackers for test persons. There are also external devices that record and store eye movements on the screen. The camera detects the eyes of the test person and their movements. This makes it possible, for example, to find out which elements of a website are being viewed and which are completely overlooked. Eye tracking has now become an indispensable technology that helps companies to a large extent to understand their customers even better.

How useful is eye-tracking for online marketing?

A distinction is made between different types of eye movements. Rapid eye movements are called saccades. When the eyes look very closely at a specific point, this is called fixation. With regressions, the gaze returns to a previously seen point. Fixations are only considered as such after a period of at least 0.3 sec. The eye movements can then be mapped in the form of so-called heat maps. With their help, the usability of websites can be controlled very well. Points that are viewed with different frequency are marked with different colours. The opacity map as an inversion of the heat map indicates areas that are not viewed. Among other things, questions such as: Which and how many Areas of Interest are there? How long do the fixations last? At what times do users look at certain areas? In which sequence are individual points or areas observed? With regard to conversion, the question of “time to first assessment” is also interesting, i.e. how long it takes until a certain area is viewed for the first time. The data of many test persons form usable and representative average values. The gaze behaviour of users always depends on the individual goal of use. Of course, in online marketing one wants to place the elements of applications and websites as user-friendly as possible. This is where eye-tracking can reveal weak points that still have a negative effect on conversions. For a successful conversion it is important that no essential content is overlooked, that the first impression is positive and that the user perceives the decisive information in time. Experience shows that videos and images are captured very quickly because they are considered interesting. Because users usually read a website from left to right, the left-hand area of a page is also in the field of vision more often than average – and this insight can also be exploited in web design. Eye-tracking is particularly important in e-commerce, as it can be very helpful in the optimal design of online shops.

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