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We know where you look – eye tracking results

We’re constantly refining our web pages in the hope they stay inviting and easy to navigate, so it was hugely interesting (and slightly nerve-racking) when experts in this space Optimal Usability decided to do some eye tracking on

Twelve participants (non accountants) were shown the home page and asked to take a moment (30 seconds) to look around. Have a look at the heat map below to see where they focused.

Initially the users’ attention was mainly focused on the hero image and the ‘Try Xero for free’ button. The tiles underneath – especially ‘Find an Accountant’ also got a high amount of attention. The top navigation options were skimmed within the first 30 seconds. Overall, most elements were perceived by the participants. To see the the heat build watch here.

After looking at the home page, participants were asked to imagine that they wanted to find out more about the features of Xero and were taken to the features page. The gaze plot below shows how three people scanned the page.

As you’d expect participants had different gaze strategies when exploring the features page. But all engaged with both halves of the page. The short fixations in the bottom half indicate that participants were scanning for buzzwords of personal relevance. Longer fixations (larger bubbles) indicate that they found a relevant buzzword. Watch the gaze plot of the person represented in blue.

It was gratifying to hear Optimal Usability CEO Trent Mankelow say that overall, the Xero website was perceived very positively by the participants. He said the homepage appeared to provide a good overview of the system, with participants exploring and possibly perceiving most navigation options within a short time span. And when asked to find out about the features, all participants instantly found the correct navigation option. The gaze behaviour indicated that the participants could easily engage with the options offered in ‘Features’ – depending on their personal interest. No hurdles were detected.

The eye tracking session we had with Trent, at which he presented his findings (and compared us to others), was really worthwhile for our team. It’s given us bunch of ideas to explore elsewhere on the website but as always we’re keen to know how you find the website.


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Blair Hughson
2 June 2011 #

Very cool from a deisgner/developer’s perspective – it’d be great to see more of these for other websites.

Matthew Bartlett
2 June 2011 #

Interesting (though not suprising) to see the heirarchy of popularity of the four faces:
1st woman with child
2nd man/woman couple
3rd & 4th single dudes

Matthew B
2 June 2011 #

Would love to see the results of this on the dashboard for actual users of your product…

Trent Mankelow
3 June 2011 #

@Blair – We have a stack of other results for telco sites (Voda, Telecom, 2 degrees, and TelstraClear), banking sites (ASB, ANZ, National, BNZ, Westpac, Kiwibank) and a few other randoms (TVNZ, Air New Zealand). We’ll be releasing the results gradually – watch this space! Follow us at @OptimalNZ to find out when they come out.

@Matthew – Given the low participant numbers, I’m not sure we can jump to that conclusion. Normally you’d be looking at 30+ participants to get statistically significant data, so with only 12 participants what we can say is that people don’t spend a whole lot of time looking at the photos, but we can’t necessarily infer that one type of photo is successful than any other.


Stephen Maitland
3 June 2011 #

Have been waiting for payroll introduction for some time, this was a selling point for me, i am most dissapointed with this aspect of xero. Off now to find another solution.

Greg Zobel
4 June 2011 #

It’s nice to have some research transparency: you sharing the results of research on your site. Hopefully you’ll run some more users through with some eye tracking and find additional ways to optimize.

5 June 2011 #

Nice heatmaps, rather bad methodology though. People rarely sit in front of a Website and look at it for 30 seconds. The way people look at a stimulus is influenced by the task they are trying to accomplish.

Helen Matterson
8 June 2011 #

@ Stephen sorry that Payroll in Xero is not what you’re after. Perhaps have a look at the add-on partners that integrate with Xero, offering a fuller service.

Trent Mankelow
9 June 2011 #

@Alex Bad methodology depends on what the research objectives are. Our objectives were simple – try and understand what attracted attention, independent of task. You’re right though, the problem with the screenshots above, is the problem with heat maps in general – they are too averaged, too general. To answer the research objective you are much better to look at other data, like time to first fixation. The trouble is that those reports don’t look as sexy. :-)

BTW the Tobii software also allows you to slide the data by any time period you like – the first second, 10 seconds, 15 seconds – whatever you’d like.

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