UX Nuggets Thoughts and advice on usability and user experience

To Track or Not To Track

February 10, 2011 |  Aga Bojko


(Re-post from the “Eye Tracking the User Experience” Blog.  Aga is currently writing Eye Tracking the User Experience, A Practical Guide, to be published by Rosenfeld Media in 2012.)

I decided to tackle Chapter 2 first -- "To Track or Not To Track" -- the most controversial question when it comes to using eye tracking in our field.

UX practitioners who have an opinion about eye tracking appear to be divided into two opposing camps: those who are pro eye tracking and those who are anti. The proponents seem to want to use eye tracking for pretty much everything, regardless of the study objectives. I have even heard of one usability professional who put their cat in front of an eye tracker just because it was cool. Oh wait, that was actually me. And no, Oreo didn't calibrate. But I digress...

The opponents, on the other hand, claim that eye tracking is just "smoke and mirrors" and doesn't have much value. These people manage to ruin it for everyone every time they voice their opinions.

I am sort of in the middle (if you ignore the cat incident). I believe there are about ten good reasons to use eye tracking in our field and definitely more than ten not to.
And now, onto the audience participation segment of this post...

Can you think of one really good reason to use eye tracking in a UX study? (Please don't say, "To find out where people look.") By a "good reason" I mean where insight gained from eye tracking data would help answer actual research questions and add value to the study. Conversely, can you think of a time when someone used eye tracking and you rolled your eyes, thinking, "What a waste of time?"

You can keep up with the book's progress by visiting its site:  http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/eye-tracking/
...or follow @agabojko and @rosenfeldmedia
...or subscribe to its RSS feed:  http://feeds.rosenfeldmedia.com/eye-tracking/
...or be notified (and get a discount) when it goes on sale



Associate Director Aga Bojko has been instrumental in establishing the eye tracking practice at GfK User Centric by integrating eye movement analysis into traditional UX research studies for software applications, websites, and product packaging. She has a MS in Human Factors from the University of Illinois and a MS in Human-Computer Interaction from DePaul University. 


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