At today’s User Experience Professionals Association webinar, Laura Rivera shared her lessons learned from eye tracking research.
Rivera is a user experience (UX) researcher at Facebook and has been instrumental in getting their eye tracking capabilities fine-tuned for mobile. Here are my takeaways from her presentation.
Why You Should Use Eye Tracking
While there are many other UX research methodologies, eye tracking helps your answer questions by directly measuring someone’s behavior.
For example, how would you know if a user is looking at a specific area without eye tracking?
The think aloud method would never reveal it.
Eye tracking allows you to discover:
- Where is someone looking?
- How long did they look at it?
- Did the fixate on it?
- Did they read it
Eye Tracking Can Be Intimidating
When UX researchers consider eye tracking, their first thought is that it’s intimidating. And that’s how Rivera first thought of it.
It takes considerable time to conduct the research and then do rigorous time-intensive analysis.
But Rivera pointed out that you can use eye tracking in a qualitative manner, which is less time-consuming and less difficult.
Lessons Learned From Eye Tracking
- Do your homework.
Talk with other researchers who’ve conducting eye tracking research. Review eye tracking resources, including Eye Tracking in User Experience Design by Jennifer Romano, Andrew Schall and Eye Tracking the User Experience by Aga Bojko.
- Consider the equipment and software you’ll be using.
Check out the different options for eye tracking (Rivera has used Tobii for her research). Consider what you will use for desktop vs mobile eye tracking.
- Choose your study wisely.
Consider your questions, the platform you’re testing on, and areas of interest. You’ll also need to decide when not to conduct eye tracking.
- Give yourself enough time to conduct eye tracking.
It takes time to set up eye tracking. You’ll need to test the equipment, software, to ensure everything is working as expected. Conduct a pilot run. Allow extra time for analysis.
Here’s an example of an eye tracking schedule over a two week period.
In the first week, on Monday: finalize research plan; on Tuesday: set up/conduct pilot session; on Wednesday: test analyses/revise as needed; on Thursday and Friday: conduct sessions.
In the second week, on Monday through Wednesday: conduct analysis; on Thursday and Friday: report findings.
- Make backup plans.
Have extra participants (for your pilot and regular sessions). Create a backup usability protocol, in case your equipment or application doesn’t work.
Livestream your sessions to stakeholders.
Ask someone on your team to score participants for you (really helpful to better understand if the participant saw the message, read the message, acted on the message, include any meaningful notes)
- Consider logistics.
Use a stationary chair, not a rolling chair (rolling chairs make it difficult to calibrate someone’s eyes, and then the participant moves the chair back).
Consider a divider screen, if you think the participant will look at you during the session.
- Plan ahead.
Don’t panic if something doesn’t go as expected. Have a backup plan in place.
The webinar will be posted, with captions, in about a week.