AGENCY GUIDE: How to Implement Eye Tracking & Usability

January 31, 2011 8:28 pm

AGENCY GUIDE: How to Implement Eye Tracking & Usability

Agency Guide: How to Implement Eye Tracking & UsabilityWithin our world of behavioural research we see a split regarding where our clients come from; either from companies approaching us directly, or referred by design agencies. Increasingly eye tracking is being sought out by agencies that have a need to add user research and also diversify their product services to clients. Companies are looking to create the best experience for the end user within their sector, and for this to happen a user centred design approach needs to be adopted with user research supporting the process.

Benefits of eye tracking to agencies

The benefit of eye tracking is that it enables a type of research where you can access the reasons why people do what they do. It allows research to take place that is very natural and not stressful to the person taking part. This means more truthful findings that can be trusted by the team.

  • It produces evidence that allows teams to move forward. Eye tracking is an enabler. Depending on the type of study carried out, the eye tracking data is backed up by user quotes so you can get to the heart of why someone behaved in the way that they did. This is only possible because the eye tracking is played back to the user, facilitating them to remember what they were thinking at the time and a huge amount of detail to come out.
  • For team building, it’s better than hiking off into the wilderness and building a raft with the members of the project. Getting key stakeholders, content managers, designers and coders in an observation room watching real users tackle the interface is hugely productive. Relationships within the agency are smoothed and relationships between the agency and the end client are forged.
  • As well as finding out usability issues, testing with natural methodologies allow users to be comfortable giving feedback about the service. Your target market can talk openly about what they need and can make unexpected suggestions – so it’s easy innovation.
  • One day of testing can produce months of development work and therefore increased revenue for the agency. Not only are budgets signed off but clients are fully bought into the process and don’t need to be persuaded to buy.

Benefits of third party usability services

  • Rather than doing in-house testing which may not give you access to your actual target market, conducting user research with a third party means that the findings are neutral. If we at SimpleUsability come into the project, we are there on behalf of the user and provide evidence from eye tracking that is hard to argue against.
  • A common excuse for not conducting user research is that it halts development work. By using an external company, they can work alongside the project allowing the team to progress with development work. A third party should take the logistical problems away from the team regarding running user research, and enable the smooth running of the project rather than putting bottlenecks in the way.

Realities of using a third party

  • Before embarking on a project make sure there are no conflicts of interests and be clear on your requirements and roles of the different agencies involved. Signing of confidentiality agreements can give you peace of mind that you are not shedding responsibility for the protection of your client’s assets for this project and all future projects.
  • The reality of running a project is that the more people involved leads to more management being required to keep control of it. Push for consistent personnel to be involved in your project so that you can rely on the outcomes and be confident with the quality.

How to sell eye tracking usability studies to your client

It’s easy to excite people about the benefits of running eye tracking but we understand that it’s more difficult to sell than you would expect. Therefore you need to:

  • Get prepared and don’t wait for your customers to suggest that they should include eye tracking. Within a pitching process, other agencies may use eye tracking as a way of differentiating their user centred process. Rather than including this as an add-in, include it as an integral part of the process to demonstrate that this is something that you understand and can implement.
  • Be one step ahead of competitors, don’t just offer general usability testing but suggest why eye tracking will give them better results and more detail for their spend.
  • Use tools to convince – it’s a hard thing to visualise and people who have not seen eye tracking may need to be shown demos or case studies to visit. Here at SimpleUsability we have a demo URL that we send out but we can also provide a specific demo for a client that you are pitching to.
  • Be ready for opportunities. Spot bottlenecks in the project where you know eye tracking would resolve an issue or query and allow the team to move past the roadblock.

When eye tracking can be incorporated into the project lifecycle

A common question is always when to include eye tracking.

  • It’s not just a pre-launch testing tool, you can test at different stages and you don’t have to wait for finished product. Testing on prototypes and wireframes allows for quick feedback and changes to be made.
  • Crucial decisions need to be made with confidence. This is a scary prospect when the business hinges on design or structural changes. Eye tracking gives clear evidence straight from the users. It doesn’t have to be a big project that the team downs tools for.
  • Eye tracking can easily supplement existing processes within the agency. The user centred design approach that eye tracking fits into matches into the iterative process of research and change that an agency will already follow.

If you’re not sure how to get started, your usability agency should be able to give advice on what and when to test.

For more information, see our article on how to buy usability testing & eye tracking.

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