Are there any types of usability metric that are particularly well elucidated by eye tracking studies?

I know that they are:
-very good at discovering visual attraction of page elements
-very good at uncovering gaze behaviour; scattered or random

have you used eye tracking and what did you find of most benefit? did you get any surprising results?


8 Answers 8


Here's an interesting chart from Nielsen's site:

To better understand when to use which method, it is helpful to realize that they differ along 3 dimensions:

- Attitudinal vs. Behavioral
- Qualitative vs. Quantitative
- Context of Website or Product Use 

The following chart illustrates where several popular methods appear along these dimensions:

enter image description here

Read more: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/user-research-methods.html


In addition to attraction and gaze patterns, measuring the distance of eye movements can be helpful (such as eye movement distance between completing a task). A design that results in shorter eye movements is generally more efficient (see more in the book Measuring the User Experience). There is actually a formula to demonstrate this, but I can't remember what it's called at the moment.

  • it's called fitts law; edit: analogous to; distance to target, size of target, time acquiring target etc. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitts%27s_law
    – colmcq
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 15:55
  • 4
    Charles- He mentions design only briefly. The answer as a whole is talking about measurements. Shorter eye movements are a metric, he give a book reference, and says there is a formula but cant remember. Please read the question before downvoting. Thank you.
    – jonshariat
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 16:30
  • 1
    ...and then again, Fitts' law has nothing to do with eye-tracking. Fitts' law uses target size and distance to target to estimates the time for the movement to this target. The size and distance can be masured in inches or pixels or whatever... Commented May 3, 2011 at 17:41
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    Fitt's law was not the exact formula to which I was referring. The distance between objects is not necessarily equivalent to the distance the eye travels. Even in my original comment, I stated "a design that results in shorter eye movements" and I sited the reference.
    – Baa
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 18:11
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    @Charles I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to read the edit history before commenting. Just explain what happened and don't take it personally. Commented May 3, 2011 at 18:17

i have never use the eyetracking, because i think the pointer movement around the site and how the user go to the link more important than eyetracking don't spend time watching the eye movement you can note that from the pointer movement .

  • hmmmm, not sure if I agree with that...
    – colmcq
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 9:29

Eye tracking can be used to confirm/deny that the current design is getting users to where they need to be in a seamless and elegant fashion. This helps to gauge the users experience. When they visit the site or use the app, can you look around quickly and find out what you need to, or does it take a lot of staring/bouncing around the page before you can accomplish your task. If it is designed poorly, with little to no visual hierarchy, the user will be stuck looking around the page potentially multiple times before they even have the slightest idea of what they are looking at. Conversely, if it is designed well, the user should be able to exhaust minimal effort to get what they want.

  • 1
    Yeah, that's pretty much what the OP said isn't it?
    – Tom Auger
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 18:51

Eye tracking almost always seems most beneficial when combined with other research techniques that allow the participant to talk through what they are doing and more importantly 'seeing'.

I've seen many a eyetracking study that if the discussion element was removed the results would suggest that all the features were 'seen' when in fact the participant looks at but does not see the feature, content on messaging under review.


I have used eye tracking, but agree with the points made in this presentation


In my experience, simple observation and careful interviewing using something like Silverback highlights nearly everything that you'd get from eye tracking sessions in a lab at a fraction of the price.


In physics you cannot measure anything without affecting what it is you are trying to measure. A voltmeter will take off a small quantity of amperes, adding in resistance and other electrical thingies.

With eye-tracking you again have the measurements affecting the results - people are not at ease in the same way regular customers are. Hence I think mousetracking with something like Clickheat is what you want:



Focus on your goals! i think other methods could be more effective and less expensive if you want to measure actions (that is important), you can analize the behavior of users for usabilities aproachs in a web analytics tool. In eye tracking, the studies are set so you can use the general data collected by others for your project too (but no all the conclusions have the absolute true and apply for your case or the actual environment). I suggest observation and interviews too, you can receive feedback directly by your users, gestures can talk!

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