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I was testing some people - ok, family - with random websites and I noticed they didn't pay any attention to logos. Then I realized that I don't either.

Given the cost of logos and clients' obsession with them, I'm wondering if, for websites at least, people are even looking at them.

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Exactly how did you notice they didn't pay attention to the logo? Eye-tracking device? I also think that the position and design of the logo as well as the rest of the website's design plays a role in this. Thus it needs to be investigated case by case. I don't think the brain has a built in feature that tells the eyes "that's a logo, don't look at it". – Bart Gijssens Apr 13 '12 at 10:32
No eye tracking. Very informal testing. Logos were at the top left corner, as they are on the overwhelming majority of sites (like this site). – sfawaz Apr 13 '12 at 12:09
OK, nut what do you mean by informal testing. Did you interrogate the users "did you pay attention to the logo"? – Bart Gijssens Apr 13 '12 at 13:40
"fail to look at" probably isn't the best way to describe it. I'm sure most people see the logo the first time but don't need to look at it often after then, and simply don't – Ben Brocka Apr 14 '12 at 15:21

In my previous usability tests I've noticed an interesting phenomenon regarding images and eye-tracking. That is that while people are aware of images such as logos and graphic areas/elements, they never fixated on the image. A fixation is a duration, specified in milliseconds, where the participant focuses on an item.

For example, we showed participants a screen for 30 seconds and then hid the screen and asked the to summarize the contents of the screen. Even though the eye-tracking software indicated no fixations on the graphics they could recall the images. It seems they register them, but don't "look" at them.

I know avoid putting primary actions in close proximity to graphics, as people seem to often over look the item when scanning the page.

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That's an interesting hypothesis. I assume you don't have / are unable to publish those test findings? – JonW Apr 13 '12 at 11:46
Very interesting. I also learned that seeing and processing are two different things: Just because people look at something doesn't mean they paid attention to it. Source: Chapter 8 from "100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People" - awesome book btw. – Phil Apr 13 '12 at 12:03
I'm sorry, but the documentation from those tests was left at an old company a few years back. I always wanted to conduct more testing around this, but since leaving the company I haven't had access to eye-tracking. – Dan Michael Apr 13 '12 at 14:07

I don't think you're understanding the point of the logo. Seeing a logo once or twice isn't the important part of branding. It's long-term recognition over repeated usage. If a user visits your site often, they may become attached to the branding, and be willing to purchase swag with your branding on it.

For example, can you identify the following?

Reddit logo


Stack Overflow logo

Stack Overflow

Pepsi logo


Gmail logo


If you could identify any of the logos, their branding worked. You recognized the brand, and it likely evoked a particular feeling toward that brand. While a user might not recognize the logo after one or two visits, repeated access and alternative locations (favicon, merchandise, header, footer, promotions, emails, etc) will build a brand relationship.

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Target and Wal-Mart are very different stores. Ask most people what makes them different, though, and you will likely find that the answers are very non-specific and vague.

The differences are overall branding and trade dress. Good branding isn't meant to yell or shout or distract. It's meant to subtly influence and mark the particular business for the consumer.

I don't have specific research, but the primary reason a person may not fixate on a logo on a web page is that they are already there. If they are going to, they know they are on They are there to shop and are now focused on their task

So while people may not FOCUS on the logo, it's there. It registers. And the primary point of a quality logo is to identify the product/service/entity so that it becomes recognizable as representing a particular quality over time.

If you don't spend a bit of money on quality branding, it may make it that much harder to differentiate your particular product amongst the crowd.

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If I went to and the bullseye was in blue, or and the logo was in red I'd probably look at it a lot longer than if it looked exactly the way I expected. If it's "right" it only takes a glance to be sure it looks the way it's supposed to. Something unfamiliar where we are expecting something familiar will require more investigation. – aslum Apr 13 '12 at 15:31
Yep. Very true. The fact that it 'feels' familiar is the goal. – DA01 Apr 13 '12 at 15:32
I've found the gestalt effect 'star' in the UX logo on here keeps dragging my attention to it... – PhillipW Apr 14 '12 at 10:50

Logo is a credential item in a website. Now since you had asked people to look at it and found people are not looking at it (whatever ways of testing involved though), I would reverse the way you tested it. Take the logo out of the webpages and ask them to browse through or do a corridor testing.

Take these sites or anything of your own in two different realms - 1. Sites which people had seen and browsed more often and 2. Sites which people rarely seen and does not have a hang of it.

Look at,, If you take cleartrip, without the site logo - the user will really be not mentally aligned with the site, since its the persuasion, emotion and reliability of a site is gone for a toss for sure - since being a plain functional site. On the flip-side if you take pepsico, user will still relate to it by the way of richness and graphic of the site. In both cases the users would want the necessary logo placement in its place which is just alike the dashboard in a car - where you never keep watching the speedometer while you drive. As a known functionality - you glance it through to check if its working, which is quite the way it is with the logo. You need to have it, but never always demands its own attention, until its required!

When logo is missing - user will react very strongly - since its the base or identity for a site, User wants to be in a world of direction, identity and know-how. In that event, missing logo's will create lostness factor and the need is always understood - when you remove the need and make user move through. Since you had it on the page - user will always had a glance at it and felt they are there for a purpose. It does not shout - but its placement itself creates critical balance to the design from a universal stand-point.

Verdict - They have not failed to look at logo but they have adjudged and consciously deselected their sensitivity when required. They look at through peripheral vision as extension of other components on the site to form a reality check.

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Be wary of testing 'recall' as against 'recognition'.

If you ask people what the logo was on the page, a lot of people will fail to recall it.

But if you show people the logo along with other logos - many more of them will be able to pick out what they've just seen.

The 'recall / recognition' thing is a standard psychology finding.

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