Google vs. Bing eye tracked

Catalyst Group in New York had released another interesting eye tracking study yesterday where they compare Microsoft’s new search engine Bing and Google. Catalyst included 12 users in the study, all using Google as their main search engine. Users performed a hotel and shopping search task on both search engines. An RTA interview with eye tracking was also included.

So what did their study reveal? The users liked the Bing visual design more but said the search results were equally relevant on both. In one of the search tasks (shopping search) Bing attracted 150% more viewing time on the ad space at the top of the search result page. This was probably due to the refinement options offered by Bing in this area. In this task the attention on the top ad space on Bing was on average 4.9 seconds vs. 2.0 seconds on Google. The amount of time spent on the right hand side ad space was similar on both search engines. In the other task (hotel search) Google received a slightly higher attention on the top ad pace (2.7 vs. 1.7). Another interesting difference found was that the time on page was shorter for Bing in both tasks – users found a viable link or option more easily on Bing. There was also more attention below the fold on Google than on Bing indicating that users had to search more on Google.

This study found some differences in the behavior between the two search engines but the differences don’t seem to be that conclusive. I’m looking forward to see more studies comparing Bing and Google. Let me know if you know of any similar studies.

You can read the report from Catalys here:


Eye tracking in package testing

The YouTube clip below is a short promo video made by Tobii illustrating how you can use a Tobii T60 XL eye tracker in package and shelf testing.

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Feng-GUI vs real eye tracking data

On the Feng-GUI web site ( you can upload images and have the website create an artificial heat map showing how people would look at your image. Feng-GUI says it can “effectively analyze Attention and Attraction in visuals” and that their “artificial intelligence service simulates human vision during the first 5 seconds of exposure to visuals”.  Supposedly their heat maps should be as accurate as eye tracking heat maps: “Feng-GUI attention map reaches over 75% of ROI similarities to Eye and Mouse Tracking.”

Well I just had to try it and compare their heat map to a real eye tracking heat map. I uploaded an image that I had already included in an earlier eye tracking project, this image was seen by 50 people. You can see the comparison below.

This is the Feng-GUI artificial heat map:


This is the real eye tracking heat map from Tobii Studio:


As you can see above, the heat maps are very very different, definetly not 75% alike. Well, what do we learn from this? It is very hard to try to model human behavior, if you want to find out how people really look at something you need to use real people, artificial intelligence will not give you the correct answer…


The value of eye tracking in RTA

I have been writing a few post on Retrospective Think Aloud (RTA) in user research previously on this blog. RTA has proven to be especially useful in combination with eye tracking because having users watch their own eye movements while they were completing a task helps them remember what they did and describe their own behavior during the interview. Mike Bartels from EyeTracking Inc has written an article on the topic called “Using Eye Movement to Capture Pre-Cognitive Reactions”, the article can be downloaded from:

In his article Mike is pointing out the value of eye tracking in RTA; it helps the respondent remember what he/she did while completing the task. See quote below:

However, once the respondents were shown the video of their testing session, they were able to see the good and the bad. As they watched their eyes moving around the site during their first exposure, many recalled that they were immediately intrigued by the sleek new design. While observing their own visual interaction during tasks, they often noticed that, in hindsight, some of the things that they were asked to do were very intuitive.

Currently we are doing a small research project at Tobii where we intend to compare the outcomes of four different RTA methods: RTA in combination with: 1) gaze video replay; 2) gaze plot; 3) screen video (no gaze data) and; 4) no visual cue. We will analyze the number of user problems found, the number of words and the type of words used in the different retrospective interviews. I will reveal the findings on this blog when we have completed the research project (probably in August).


The more a link is seen, the more it will be clicked

I came across an interesting study from Sendtec and Eye Tools where they looked at the correlation between the visibility of an area on a search result page and the click through rates. The results where not that surprising though; the areas and links seen by more people also received more clicks. The correlation was very strongly positive (.95) between visibility and clicks. This study supports the argument that if an area on a web page or a link etc is not seen it will probably not be clicked. Eye tracking can thus help you predict which areas will be clicked and help you improve click through rates by making important links and areas more visible.

Read more about the study here:


Slides from Shanghai & Beijing

I did a presentation on eye tracking in user experience research in Shanghai on May 27th and in Beijing on May 29th. My PowerPoint slides can be downloaded as pdf from here for Shanghai and Beijing.


Eye Tracking “Friends Lists” layouts on LinkedIN and Facebook

friendlistCatalyst Group in New York recently published some interesting findings from an Eye Tracking and Usability study where they compared two popular “friends list” layouts, a 3-column layout similar to LinkedIN and a 1-column layout similar to Facebook. In the test they compared prototypes of the two types of lists. All all 13 users took part in the test and they completed two different tasks on the pages, one name recognition task where users were asked to find a name and a title recognition task where users were asked to find a “design professional”. Users were eye tracked while completing the tasks and interviewed afterward.

The 3-Column layout was more cumbersome and overwhelming. The users did not adopt a consistent scanning strategy and they had to begin by experimenting how to search before starting the actual task. Users also found that they had lost their place on the page after scrolling and had to backtrack up the page. The information was read either horizontally in rows or vertically up and down the page and many of the names on the list escaped the users’ attention.

Overall, the 1-Column friends list was a much more effective and enjoyable. All users scanned the information vertically and in a similar way and it was not necessary to spend time “figuring out” how to search the page. They also found it easier to focus only on the information relevant to each task.


“Although the 1-Column layout is a simpler design that requires more scrolling, and in general took more time to review, our Eye Tracking study indicates that this is a much more effective layout for accurately accomplishing the key networking goals of scanning a list for people you know or want to meet.”

“When presented with minor variations of the 1-Column layout, participants indicated they would prefer the display of names was paginated, eliminating the need to scroll.”

The entire report can be downloaded from the Catalyst Blog here: PDF


New Tobii T60 XL wide screen eye tracker reviewed

Niall from Realeyes is reviewing the new Tobii T60 XL wide screen 24″ eye tracker and the latest version of the analysis software Tobii Studio (1.5) in three video clips on YouTube. Watch them below:


Rogil case on advertisment research and eye tracking

Tobii has today released a new customer case on print advertisement research and eye tracking, based on a study by research company Rogil from Belgium. The aim of the study was to gain insight into the impact of a print advertisement for the alcohol drink “After” aimed at women. The study combined quantitative, qualitative and behavioral measurements (eye tracking) and the seven A4 print advertisements were show on an eye tracker screen (using the Tobii 2150, predecessor to the Tobii T60 XL eye tracker) . In total 131 consumers participated of which 52 where eye tracked. The participants were asked to look at these ads as they would do in a magazine and they could control the viewing time themselves.

rogil_resultsThe results revealed that there was a mismatch between the interpretation of the ad and the actual product as the majority of the females could not correctly identify the product as an alcoholic drink. Consumers’ attention was mainly directed to the logo, the visual and the product. But the product information at the bottom, explaining the product, lacked awareness and it was not read entirely. See the picture showing percentage of participants looking at the different areas and the fixation times.

The ads were later redesigned to bring forward the product and its characteristics. The product definition was shortened and had an increased font size and the brand name was highlighted.


Why does Rogil use eye tracking?

“We know that attention to a stimulus is influenced by both person-specific (prior knowledge, aspirations, etc.) and stimulus specific (contrast, placement, etc.) characteristics. Traditional techniques alone are not able to reveal all drivers of attention. Eye tracking, as a behavioral measurement, helps to give a more complete understanding of attention, comprehension and consumer behavior.”

Download the case as a pdf document from the Tobii website here.


Video: Eye tracking in quantitative user testing online

Today Tobii released a new interesting video clip in its Eye Track Expert TV interview series featuring Niall Bellabarba from Realeyes. Niall talks about how they use eye tracking in quantitative user testing online. Realeyes usually include at least 50 users in their eye tracking studies to reach saturation in user behavior to enable them to do quantitative analysis of the result. Their business idea is also to take the device where the appropriate users are, rather than having the users come to them and their testing facility. The cost of a simple quantitative web site test usually starts from £ 6 000-8 000. In the clip Niall also show and explain an example report they deliver to their end clients. Two example reports from Realeyes can be downloaded from here. Please watch the video below:


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