There are some early, and interesting results from Poynter’s latest eyetracking study. (Hat tip to Jay).
Here’s a quick rundown:
* Users really like text — photos, multimedia elements and the like got lower viewing than text and text-links
* Users paid little attention to the blurbs beneath headline links and paid more attention to the headline-link itself. The author says this could mean headlines are even more important than we thought… they’re the primary way to convey information to readers.
* Users will scroll below the “fold” — as the long as the design doesn’t explicity cut the page in half… he said that when pages had rules or other items to distinguish “above the fold” from “below the fold” users tended to think the page ended and didn’t scroll. If the layout indicated more content, then they’d scroll.
* Ads on shorter, less packed home pages tended to receive more viewership than on more content-packed home pages
I wonder if this isn’t just because the user is left looking for information that isn’t on your page, so they turn to the ads as a last resort.
* Multimedia elements didn’t get more hits than text… words reign supreme.
These are all very interesting results, but its also stuff that folks in the know have been saying and reading for a while.
I’m interested in seeing the full results, which will be posted starting
April 5 *I don’t know where I pulled that date out from… the site says starting in May*.
We certainly can’t draw any hard and fast conclustions yet, but I imagine these early results indicate trends, and I hope the news industry — which used eyetracking in the ’70s to usher in better design — will take the report to heart and start improving their sites.
I, for one, will try and do my part.