- Author: Cynthia Kintigh
We talk a lot about the placing your most important Web content "above the fold," but findings from the Eyetrack III study reveal additional information about the importance of placement.
Eyetracking is research that tracks where a person's eyes look while reading, then analyzes the data to reveal patterns. By combining and reviewing data from multiple individuals during testing, they discover representative patterns that apply to most of the population.
While this study focused on the top 25 news sites, there's critical information here for anyone managing content and navigation on any site.
This study revealed that visitors to a site first look at the upper left corner.
This graphic illustrates the "zones of importance" based on eye movement.
Other findings include:
- Partial viewing of headlines is common
Viewing just the left one-third of a headline or blurb is common
The researches estimate that headlines catch less than one second of a viewer's attention
- Top navigation performs best
- Shorter paragraphs perform best
Proving again that your cursor is your best Web editing friend
- Smaller type encourages reading while large type encourages scanning
I don't know what to do with this one. As a general rule I would not recommend the use of smaller type to encourage reading.
Findings of the Eyetrack III study were released by The Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media, and Eyetools.
If you want to learn more about eyetracking technology and Web usability, you can also check out Jakob Nielson's site and the Nielson Norman Group's book Eyetracking Web Usability.