Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Eyes Have It

Software usability has really benefited from the latest and greatest digital technology for eye tracking. If you are not familiar with eye tracking, it is exactly what it sounds like: a camera watching where the user's eyes are focused, and matching that to the screen to identify what the user is REALLY looking at, for how long, and in what order.

Here is a really great summary called "Scientific Web Design: 23 Actionable Lessons from Eye-Tracking Studies" that collects information from several different studies, and packages it up into something pretty, dare I say it, usable.

It is really worth it to read the whole thing, and it is pretty short. Here are a few highlights that got my attention:

  • Text attracts attention before graphics

  • Fancy formatting and fonts are ignored

  • Type size influences viewing behavior

  • One-column formats perform better in eye-fixation than multi-column formats

  • Lists hold reader attention longer

  • Navigation tools work better when placed at the top of the page

There is so much more to UI than drawing a pretty picture. Applying some science to the art of user interface design can result in something truly beautiful.

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