Mouse pointer tracking?

15 Nov 2004 - 8:11pm
9 years ago
8 replies
872 reads
Manu Sharma
2003

I haven't come across a study that has identified the areas on
the screen on which users leave their mouse pointers when
they're not using the mouse. I understand that this would
largely depend upon the application that is being used but
could there be a pattern?

Since we always pick up where we stop, it seems to me that
identifying these most frequented hot spots would help us
design better interfaces by placing the most used controls
with this knowledge in mind. It would for example, establish a
clear favorite in the long standing left/ right navigation
debate.

Has there been any research/ study on this? And what do you
think?

Manu Sharma
New Delhi, India

http://orangehues.com/blog

Comments

16 Nov 2004 - 4:45am
lopez_r6 at tsm.es
2004

Manu
I don´t know if that is helpful
You can find
--Click density analysis
--Scrolling analysis
--Field analysis
http://www.netconversions.com

<discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>

"Manu Sharma" <manu at orangehues.com>
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Asunto: [ID Discuss] Mouse pointer tracking?

16/11/2004 02:11

Telefónica Móviles España, S.A.

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

I haven't come across a study that has identified the areas on
the screen on which users leave their mouse pointers when
they're not using the mouse. I understand that this would
largely depend upon the application that is being used but
could there be a pattern?

Since we always pick up where we stop, it seems to me that
identifying these most frequented hot spots would help us
design better interfaces by placing the most used controls
with this knowledge in mind. It would for example, establish a
clear favorite in the long standing left/ right navigation
debate.

Has there been any research/ study on this? And what do you
think?

Manu Sharma
New Delhi, India

http://orangehues.com/blog

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16 Nov 2004 - 5:08am
Tommy Eskelinen
2004

With a risk of beeing a little too pessimistic I don't think there is any
use of desiging an interface based on where most people leave their mouse
pointer.

Instead you could use the five most accessible areas to reach with a mouse
pointer - the four corners and the pixel where your mouse is. To use the
pixel where your mouse is you could implement the basic solution with
right-click, or the more elaborate solution that 3D-application Maya is
using where u can use shift, ctrl or alt buttons with any of the mouse
buttons to reach short-cuts to certain commands (I don't know if it is
patented).

As for the discussion of where to put the navigation. There is a study
made a long time ago about how people scan a page. It is diagonaly from
top-left corner to right-bottom corner, then top-right and bottom-left. So
my suggestion is to put navigation somewhere in the top-left area. (sorry,
but I have no link to the study).

Best regards
Tommy Eskelinen
- looking for a job in Basel, Switzerland

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I haven't come across a study that has identified the areas on
> the screen on which users leave their mouse pointers when
> they're not using the mouse. I understand that this would
> largely depend upon the application that is being used but
> could there be a pattern?
>
> Since we always pick up where we stop, it seems to me that
> identifying these most frequented hot spots would help us
> design better interfaces by placing the most used controls
> with this knowledge in mind. It would for example, establish a
> clear favorite in the long standing left/ right navigation
> debate.
>
> Has there been any research/ study on this? And what do you
> think?
>
> Manu Sharma
> New Delhi, India
>
> http://orangehues.com/blog
>
>
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
>

16 Nov 2004 - 7:24am
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

I swear, this has got to be the most well-hidden research paper
ever... And the worst part is, everyone mentions the information, but
no one references it.

However, this one's interesting.
http://www.poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/viewing.htm

A study done with Eyetrack III, showing the "hot spots" on news sites
-- where the visitors' eyes remained the longest, as well as the
scanning patterns.

Dan

On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 11:08:39 +0100 (CET), Tommy Eskelinen
<tommy at eskelinen.net> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> With a risk of beeing a little too pessimistic I don't think there is any
> use of desiging an interface based on where most people leave their mouse
> pointer.
>
> Instead you could use the five most accessible areas to reach with a mouse
> pointer - the four corners and the pixel where your mouse is. To use the
> pixel where your mouse is you could implement the basic solution with
> right-click, or the more elaborate solution that 3D-application Maya is
> using where u can use shift, ctrl or alt buttons with any of the mouse
> buttons to reach short-cuts to certain commands (I don't know if it is
> patented).
>
> As for the discussion of where to put the navigation. There is a study
> made a long time ago about how people scan a page. It is diagonaly from
> top-left corner to right-bottom corner, then top-right and bottom-left. So
> my suggestion is to put navigation somewhere in the top-left area. (sorry,
> but I have no link to the study).
>
> Best regards
> Tommy Eskelinen
> - looking for a job in Basel, Switzerland
>

--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

16 Nov 2004 - 12:39pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Dan:
> I swear, this has got to be the most well-hidden research
paper
> ever...

Thanks Dan. I've gotten some other encouraging responses as
well. Including one quoting an expert in pointing techniques
that this hasn't been researched at all. Mouse pointer
tracking that I proposed is quite distinct from click density
analysis, scrolling analysis or eye tracking studies.

I think it'll be much easier to study, even for a large sample
group. All one needs is to create some kind of a screen
recording program solely for the mouse pointer and distribute
it in the identified sample group. It will then begin tracking
as they go about using their system everyday. Unlike screen
recording programs, this will require minimum RAM and will not
be intrusive to user's privacy. Collecting no other detail
except perhaps what applications are being run.

I'll be very glad if someone takes it up.

Manu.
http://orangehues.com/blog

16 Nov 2004 - 10:49pm
Andy Edmonds
2004

>Thanks Dan. I've gotten some other encouraging responses as
well. Including one quoting an expert in pointing techniques
that this hasn't been researched at all. Mouse pointer
tracking that I proposed is quite distinct from click density
analysis, scrolling analysis or eye tracking studies.

I published the spec for a system that stores mouse movement vectors in a
instrumented web browser a last year:
Edmonds, A. (2003). Uzilla: A new tool for web usability testing. Behavior
Research Methods, Instrumentation and Computers. Volume 32, Issue 2, pp
194-201.

Using this tool, I've observed some tendency for users to reposition the
mouse in the upper left hand corner between page loads, consistent with the
Poynter data.

Other work using the ObSys tool:
Gellner, M. & Forbrig, F. (2003). ObSys - a Tool for Visualizing Usability
Evaluation Patterns with Mousemaps. HCI International, Greece.
http://wwwswt.informatik.uni-rostock.de/deutsch/Mitarbeiter/michael/obsys/Ob
sys_HCI2003_pre.pdf

Finally and tangentially, I had great fun with mouse movement data in my
masters thesis looking at menu usage.
http://surfmind.com/masters/screens/the_making_of_a_visualization.html

Hth,
Andy Edmonds

18 Nov 2004 - 8:25am
H Taylor
2004

Tommy wrote:

> With a risk of beeing a little too pessimistic I don't think there is
> any
> use of desiging an interface based on where most people leave their
> mouse
> pointer.

I'm inclined to agree. I doubt that most people generally put their
mouse in some specific location when not doing something in particular
with it (though this is supposition - I haven't researched). Further,
because the cursor can be hard to locate on the screen and our vision
is more sensitive to motion, I strongly suspect that the first thing
people do when starting a task with a mouse is to move it, so that they
can track its location.

- Hal

2 Dec 2004 - 12:03pm
Martyn Jones BSc
2004

Sorry for the late response, I'm playing catch up.

Would the location a user leaves their pointer be heavily influenced by the
environment the input device is used (e.g. desktop space) and by input
device preferences (e.g. if pointer velocity is applied and by how much)?

Also, what about absolute positioning, e.g. pen & tablet?

Might be interesting to also record keyboard shortcut usage, e.g. the degree
to which shortcuts replace 'long pointer journeys'.

Mart

----------------------
Martyn Jones BSc
Interaction Designer
Kode Digital Ltd.
----------------------

4 Dec 2004 - 2:12pm
Adrian Liem
2004

Just some personal observations (nothing remotely formal or
research-based)...

1. Some users tend to place their cursor in an area of the screen where
there is no functionality - i.e. anywhere where nothing will happen if they
left-click or use the scroll wheel (if they have one on their mouse).

2. If a user is reading a page of text that is a few screen shots long (long
enough for the scroll bar to be functioning, but short enough such that the
scroll bar can be easily used to scroll the page), some will tend to keep
the mouse pointer on the scroll bar and intermittently click-and-drag the
scroll bar as they read the content.

3. Some users even use the mouse pointer as a means of tracking what they're
reading/scanning, almost like a guide for their eyes. Along a similar vein,
I've seen some also highlight text with their mouse as they read it.

About this comment below:

Mart > Might be interesting to also record keyboard shortcut usage, e.g. the
degree
Mart > to which shortcuts replace 'long pointer journeys'.

I've seen instances where a user is performing a repetitive task and will
use a keyboard shortcut for a particular function, but then midway through
the task will switch and go through the 'long pointer journey'. Sometimes it
seems to be related to ergonomics as this change in how they complete the
same task coincides with other shifting of posture, arms etc. Other times it
seems to be related to the relative significance of the task, e.g. if
performing a 'final' action such as 'save and close', some users seem to
prefer having a visual sense of the action they are performing by using the
mouse, dropping down a menu or hovering over an icon and then clicking
(which also gives audio feedback via the 'click' of the mouse button).

Again, purely informal observations...

Adrian

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