When you view a company’s website, where do you look first? And how long do your eyes stay there? Does that make a difference?
Eye tracking research is used in all types of fields ranging from neuroscience and psychology to business and advertising. There is a lot of information that can be learned to become a better online marketer, content writer or website designer.
A peek into the power of eye tracking
According to Tobii, an eye tracking research company, “Eye tracking complements view and click statistics, in studies of e-commerce websites, banner advertising, email campaigns, electronic newsletters and in-game advertising. It provides new online branding measurements.”
In the field of Web usability, eye tracking can help businesses analyze consumer interaction between clicks and how much time that user spends between clicks. It gives businesses insights into which features on a website are the most interesting and which are ignored.
Valuable insight for online presence
Here are some important results from eye tracking studies, as noted by Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics:
- Put your most valuable content above the fold. You only have eight seconds to grab your consumers’ attention, so place the most enticing information above your fold. But don’t clutter that space by cramming in too much information or calls to action. Work on making messaging appealing.
- Put calls to action at the bottom of the page. The bottom is the second-most-viewed portion of the page. When people scroll — and they do — they go straight to the bottom of the page. That’s where you should put your call to action.
- People read big, bold headlines. In addition to the readable sizzle, a headline should also have dominant design elements — big and bold.
- Chunks of information are best. We can’t easily absorb massive blocks of text. People look at chunks, so your website should break up content into short paragraphs, provide headings, use bullets and create numbered lists.
- You need a lot of white space. Negative space is valuable because it facilitates movement through the rest of the Web page. The white space encourages clean movement and better intake of the data, helping the eye know where to go next.
- The left side of your page is important. Many written languages use a left-to-right reading pattern, so this has become ingrained. When designing your company Web page or placing content, maximize the left side of the page with important elements.
- Rethink your banner ad strategy. “Banner blindness” was one of the first and most-talked-about usability phenomena in the early days of eye tracking studies. Unless you have no other way to monetize your website, don’t use banner ads.
- Pictures of real people are good. A Web page with pictures of a real person’s face encourages interaction and viewing and decreases the bounce rate. Using pictures on your home page, about page and social media profiles boosts a sense of understanding and trust.
New vision in the future
You can’t exactly guarantee that just because a consumer looks at certain parts of your website that he or she will then take a predicted action.
But where people look is still an extremely important factor. It impacts what they learn and possibly what they might do. A look comes before a click.
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By the time you read this, the new Apple Pay service will be up and running. The much-hyped app will allow users of the iPhones 6 — and, eventually, Apple Watches — to pay for products and services simply and easily, much in the same way PayPal does.
Except it won’t just be restricted to online purchases — you’ll be able to use it for things you buy at participating brick-and-mortar outlets.
Essentially, you load up your iPhone with your credit or debit card information, and use it to check out instead of a physical card. No more fumbling around in your purse for your Visa card — a few buttons pushed, and you’re done. (Needless to say, Apple gets its cut in the form of fees.)
Changing the game
Edward Baig of USA Today is already calling it a “game-changer.” This is more than a new way to buy tchotchkes on your computer during lunch break; this could encourage “consumers to cast aside physical wallets and use their phones to pay at the checkout counter.”
Similarly, though with a much lower profile, Twitter’s new Buy function is set to rev up online sales. (Unlike Apple Pay, you won’t be able to use it offline.) Users view a tweet offering a product, and if they’re so inclined, they simply tap “Buy Now” to enter shipping and payment info.
“It’s a streamlined and straightforward way to make a purchase, and it’s intuitive,” writes Erica Schlesinger of Wright On Communications “It speaks to the ever-present need to get things done and get them done fast.”
People are reacting to this new way of doing business, and all the economic indicators are aiming upward.
By 2018 eMarketer expects mobile proximity payments (like Apple Pay) to hit $118 billion a year in the U.S., up from $3.5 billion in 2014. Digital payment options (like Twitter Buy and PayPal) already make up a huge chunk of online transactions.
It seems we’re on the verge of crossing a divide where people no longer think twice about using their smartphone or computer to pay for their purchases instead of a wallet.
Brands nudge the way
Still, challenges remain. As the New York Times noted back in April, many traditional-minded consumers remain cool to the idea of “digital wallets,” and reminded readers of other businesses that have already trod through this territory, and failed.
They include companies you’ve likely never heard of, like ISIS Wallet — which, for obvious reasons relating to the terrorist group, has had to rebrand on the fly. (They’re now known as Softcard.) But also big names like Google, whose Wallet service launched in 2011 and has wallowed since. Even Facebook introduced its own Buy button in July of this year, to little fanfare or impact.
Many observers think Apple Pay will be the breaking point because of the company’s incredible brand prestige. The company has also been smart to put security issues at the forefront of their effort, reassuring customers about the integrity of their personal financial data, even if they lose their iPhone.
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