Honestly, I was expecting the article to be boring but it turned out to be quite an easy and interesting read.

Back to reflections…

Anyway, I agreed with the author that it is quite silly to try to back up with something as subjective as design with quantitative data. The author brought across this point quite when he said,

“If web design were not an art, then we would always get every part right. But it is an art, and, like all art, it deals with the subjective. The subjective is something you can never get 100% right. “

When it comes to design or art, I think the best research method to rely on is still in the qualitative form as the audience or consumers will tell what they really think of your design in their own words. Whenever, I have a designing assignment, I would always ask for my friends’ opinions with no cost involved. Although this method is less expensive, in my case it’s free, it does not make the information collected less reliable and accurate than the expensive eyetracking tool. However, it is important to note that the information gathered would be useless if the designer has no good knowledge of the design principles.

The YouTube video below is on eyetracking analysis. I found on Seth’s blog, which is one of the links found in the article. After watching the video, I really do not see the value in this usability tool. It only tells me one thing i.e. the web audience do not read in an organized manner and they have the tendency to let their eye bounce/roam all over the place. What can designers do with the information collected?

On another blog linked from the article, it mentioned some interesting finding and I thought I should just share it with you here. The findings are as follow:

  • Participants often would acquire the scroll bar without looking at it. They’d move their mouse over to the right edge of the screen and start scrolling, but their gaze wouldn’t leave the center of display. It seemed they were using their peripheral vision to acquire and use the scroll bar.
  • Participants would orally tell us they couldn’t see something their gaze was focused on. (Women in my life have referred to this as “Male Refrigerator Blindness” — the inability to see something right in front of you.)
  • Participants often would click on objects they barely gazed at. They’d focus their vision on some part of the screen, then move their mouse to some place else to actually click.

If behaviour is common among all the web audience, this would mean the information and data collected from the eye-tracking analysis is useless and it reveals nothing about why the users are looking at a particular area. This could be illustrated with an example from the article: ” If, for example, an eyetracker tells you that people don’t spend time looking at your company’s logo, does that mean you need a new logo, or does it mean that your logo is already deeply familiar to the user?”

Another interesting point brought up by the author was how research is sometimes used as a (office) political tool. I think that is one of the few advantages quantitative research can offer to the designers that is to convince quantifiable data to people who has little or no designing knowledge that your design is sound.

In conclusion, I would rather stick with the cheaper alternative to eyetracking tool that is qualitative research and work on designing foundation.

p.s. persona rooms is really a stupid idea and a waste of money.

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