Awhile back I received an email from one of the many newsletters I subscribe to that actually had a very interesting study in it. If I could remember the person who sent it to me I would give them credit for introducing the study to me but unfortunately I do not recall it.
The study was conducted by the Poynter Institute, which is an institute for journalists, and the study is called the Eye Track III study. According to Wikipedia eye tracking is:
“the process of measuring either the point of gaze (“where we are looking”) or the motion of an eye relative to the head.”
The study consisted of 46 online readers for one hour while reading through websites and online media. This study’s findings can tell us a lot about effective web design, below is a list of what was found:
- Readers’ eyes fixated first in the upper left of the page (generally around the site’s flag or logo), then hovered in that area before going left to right.
- Navigation elements at the top of a home page attracted a lot of attention.
- Dominant headlines drew the eye first upon entering the page — especially when they were in the upper left. Larger headlines drew more attention than small.
- Underlined headlines and visual breaks — like a line or rule — discouraged people from looking at items beyond the break.
- Text, not photographs, was the entry point into home pages.
- Short paragraphs received twice as much attention as long.
- Lower parts of the screen — especially areas one would have to scroll to see — received modest viewing.
- The standard one-column story format performed better than multiple column formats.
- Summary descriptions (extended deck headlines, paragraph length) leading into articles were popular.
- Ads in the top and left portions of a home page received the most attention, and placement near popular editorial content helped attract eyes to ads. Big ads were viewed more than small.
By just reading through the list I have found things I could do differently with my site. For example: putting the least important information on the right hand side, since it is neglected. Since quality content is a main goal of many bloggers placing it at the left side should not be a difficult task. However, if you want other things to be noticed first such as your recent posts or other things one may have to change to a three column template to do so.
There are many simple changes one can make to their site after reading this; others may be a bit more difficult. To find even more great information on this study you can go to Eyetrack III and read more about the findings.