The Power of Controlling Eye Movement
Websites usually have a two-fold goal to increase their views and searchability. First is to ensure that the site is optimised for search engine results. The second is to have organic traffic, ensuring conversion of your searchers.
Conversion is hard as you need both good, relevant content while actively engaging your new audience. Though not the be all, it is helpful to understand user behaviour so you can optimise your website for maximum effect.
When searching, users are known to first do a search on the search engine using keywords that they think is relevant to what they need, and then once they’re on the site, they start reading the content and look for details that they need from this. We should understand that readership is incomplete. Most of the time, what readers do is skim quickly through the content until they find the relevant keywords they used. These will stop the reader’s eyes from wandering in the content and then fix their eyes on the information around the relevant data that they need. These keywords then act as fixation points and help the reader process information easier, making it more memorable and giving the reader a “recall”. By spacing relevant keywords within the content and adding information that is concise and informative, this improves users’ recall value of the information. Recall evokes understanding, emotions and helps in making the customer comeback, helping in subscriber conversion.
Like in many things in real life, however, adding fixation points to saturation defeats the technical purpose of these in the first place. It will help to optimise a website by controlling the user’s saccadic movement. Saccadic movement refers to the rapid eye movement between fixation points. Fewer saccadic movements assist in memory and information retention. What this means is that an excessive amount of elements on your website do not help as it distracts the user. This is why people are annoyed by websites with too many things to click, simply because it distracts them from what they need to do.
A design style of Microsoft called Tiles is a good example of controlling saccadic movement while adding as much elements as possible. By streamlining elements within the site to make sure that they are logical, easy to understand and easy to process, this fools the brain in seeing fewer fixation points even if it sees a big amount of elements. It lets the eyes smoothly scroll from side to side and see what the user immediately needs.
There are many more ways to control user eye movement, and maybe I’ll discuss more in the future since the list just goes on and on and on. The central idea stays the same: you want your user to convert to your site, subscribe to information that you provide and come back next time. By combining good, relevant content with streamlined elements in your website, it will give your user an easier time using your site, which will then potentially help them come back when they need the same or relevant information or products that you can provide.