Using Eye Tracking to Compare Web Page Designs: A Case Study

Peer-reviewed Article

pp. 112-120


A proposed design for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Web site was evaluated against the original design in terms of the ease with which the right starting points for key tasks were located and processed. This report focuses on the eye tracking methodology that accompanied other conventional usability practices used in the evaluation. Twelve ASCO members were asked to complete several search tasks using each design. Performance measures such as click accuracy and time on task were supplemented with eye movements which allowed for an assessment of the processes that led to both the failures and the successes. The report details three task examples in which eye tracking helped diagnose errors and identify the better of the two designs (and the reasons for its superiority) when both were equally highly successful. Advantages and limitations of the application of eye tracking to design comparison are also discussed.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • One of the ways eye tracking can benefit user experience research is by providing additional measures that help compare alternative designs of the same interface.
  • Time on task and error rate do not always tell the whole story. Eye movements help reveal the process, often not fully conscious, that led to these observable outcomes.
  • Eye tracking should be used when a detailed evaluation of visual search is required to make recommendations. The number of times the target was looked at and the number of fixations prior to the first fixation on the target provide information about the attention deployment stage of search (Did users see the target? Did they have trouble locating it?) and about the target processing stage (Did users have difficulties comprehending the target?).