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The AVRC conducts applied research, usually on a consultancy basis, into user's interaction with web sites. In doing so we typically utilise various eye-tracking techniques at our disposal to assess where users of the site look and, often as importantly, where they don't.

We have found that eye-tracking can give a much better insight into how users interact with a site or page than traditional interview techniques alone. Interviewing relies on memory and various other psychological processes that can influence what participants report, Eye-tracking can record where they actually did look and so by combining this with interviews one can not only highlight problems but also assess where they may lie. For example, if participants did not report seeing some key information was it because they didn't look at it (which could indicate issues such as relative conspicuity) or did they look at it and just not mention seeing it (which could indicate confusion or a lack of impact).

These techniques can be used both to understand how participants succeed or fail in navigating a site and to examine how they interact with individual pages. The latter can be a powerful tool in assessing competing page designs or elements of a design in the way they convey information to users. Given a realistic objective or task it is often interesting to see if users take in the information and follow the paths anticipated by the designers.

The AVRC usually offers two levels of research for web-based materials, depending upon the needs of the customer. The first level is to run approximately ten or so participants on the site or pages in question, to give a qualitive feel for the sort of aspects which further research or design may want to address. This approach can often indicate any major issues likely to be experienced by users, and so is comparable to many basic usability or focus-group studies in nature. The output from this type of work usually comprises a report with pictures indicating where participants fixated and how those fixations were apportioned - often relative to areas of interest (AOIs) identified beforehand and phrased with descriptive statistics.

The second level of research is somewhat more scientific and typically aims to answer specific questions with results of a quantitive nature. If answers to specific questions are sought we would encourage the use of sufficient numbers of participants with a sufficiently controlled and small number of variations to offer the chances of getting statistically significant results. This approach can be especially useful in making comparisons between similar designs, particularly if only key elements of the design are varied between versions and if proper experimental methodologies are used during the study. The deliverables from this type of work would typically include a report with pictures indicating placement of user's fixations, but this time would tend to include a greater number of measures and more detailed statistical results targeted at the specific research questions and AOIs in hand.

Almost every situation has its own requirements, and this in turn benefits from a bespoke approach to constructing the research. To enquire about what we may be able to do for you, please feel free to contact us without obligation.

 

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