What is eye tracking?
Since its inception, eye tracking has been employed by cognitive scientists to study reading, learning, attention, and neurology; by marketers to examine the effectiveness of ad and package designs; and by human factors engineers to guide automotive and airplane cockpit design. These and other disciplines have had great success leveraging eye tracking as a behavioral research method and to inform the design of communications and interactions. Recently, as eye tracking technology has become more affordable and accessible, academics, research suppliers, and eye tracking equipment makers have been experimenting with applying eye tracking to behavioral research in new domains. (UXMag.com)
An interesting study done by The User Experience and Decision Making (UXDM) research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute showed that users are visually attracted to simple content areas rather than an area with a bold bright background color. As a designer, making a content area stand out with bold color and design is natural if you want to attract a user. For example, you may have an area on your website with important information such as an upcoming event or a sale and place it in the sidebar, let’s say. What is interesting that the study found that users’ brain automatically tells the eyes to ignore this area because it assumes it is an advertisement. I think this is so interesting and completely makes sense. We are used to seeing all sort of pop up ads and static advertisements on the side or up top when we visit websites and it’s so interesting to see that our brains actually do the work for us without us even knowing it. Our brain knows that we are generally annoyed with online ads and typically ignore them, so when it notices something similar, such as a bright color content area, which online ads usually are, it tells the eyes to ignore them.
This certainly will have me think twice next time I need to make an important content area stand out.
Any users out there that want to share their thoughts about how they experience these types of content areas, please leave a comment.
Are you generally attracted and pay more attention to an area with bright design or do you automatically ignore it because you assume its an advertisement?