Does eye-tracking carry any real meaning?(*edit)

25 Nov 2007 - 11:14pm
8 years ago
2 replies
1213 reads
Jared M. Spool

On Nov 25, 2007, at 9:47 PM, hanif o'neil wrote:

> I would suggest that it has been through eye-tracking research
> that this instance has been highlighted, e.g. Enquiro's discovery
> of Google Search's "Golden Triangle," where users ignored ads along
> the right scroll bar of the screen (in order to ignore that area of
> the page users had to see it first). Though, more important were
> the areas of the page that users didn't ignore, supported not only
> by heat-mapped impressions, but gaze patterns and click-throughs.

And observation and discussion with the user. Which is a lot cheaper.

> If there is another technology that can do this please share?

Hah! *This* technology can't even do this. There are three or four
possible interpretations to eye tracking data that can take any
analysis into completely different directions. Every eye tracker
should have a sticker saying "Just add meaning."

As the Rock Man said, "You see what you want to see and you hear what
you want to hear." (I'll send a UI12 Conference CD to the first
person who can correctly identify *that* reference. Google is
cheating. :) )

It's all based on interpretation. The "Enquiro Discovery" wasn't a
discovery at all -- it was something many of us already had known
through our work without the use of eye tracking. At best, eye
tracking just confirms what we already know.

Look, you can use whatever tools you want. Hell, use a Magic 8-Ball
[1] for all I care. (Can you say, "Outlook not so good"?) If you get
mileage from it, go for it. If it improves your design, all the best
to ya.

I'm still avoiding eye tracking for diagnosing problems with designs
because I find it to be practically useless. And I'm recommending our
clients do the same.


p.s. I'm seriously considering putting a "23 Web Site Design Tips
Learned from the Magic 8-Ball" post together.


Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at p: +1 978 327 5561 Blog:


26 Nov 2007 - 6:41pm
Jared M. Spool

On Nov 26, 2007, at 8:09 AM, Ron Perkins wrote:

> Thanks for the observations on eye tracking, I've never used one
> but suspected that they were a lot of work and
> offered wonderfully precise answers to the wrong questions.
> Hey, wasn't that line from a Pink Floyd tune?

Nope. Nilsson's The Point. (Excellent story, if you've never heard it.)


Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at p: +1 978 327 5561 Blog:

27 Nov 2007 - 6:29am
Mike Bennett

For a brilliant example of the importance of attention in vision you
should have a look at Prof Richard Wiseman's colour changing card trick:

Its a great illustration that just because your rentina "sees"
something doesn't mean you will see it at a "cognitive" level.

BTW who spotted it? :)

There's a bunch of on-going research into visual attention - google
will throw up lots of links (ah, if only google helped me understand
it as well).

- Mike

Mike Bennett
PhD Candidate

Imaging, Visualisation and Graphics Lab
Systems Research Group, University College Dublin, Ireland

- email: mike.bennett at
- blog:
- web:

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