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Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Ron Perkins <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 28 Sep 2007 09:45:58 -0400
Design Perspectives
text/plain (90 lines)
I don't have any eye tracking evidence as I've not used an eye tracker yet.
However, I have seen numerous times where test participants in a usability
test have missed items that we as designers all thought self evident.

I think that in the case you describe, it may have to do with graphic
design.  Can you describe what the new elements looked like?  How much white
space was around them?  Were they light characters on a dark background?

The two observations that I've made in the past regarding navigation
elements is that:

1) whenever they are buried in a dark background, the user seems to skip
over them, looking for the light areas of the page more often. My theory on
that is that the graphic design had an impact and the dark areas looked more
like separators or borders (like Windows title bars...) and the user skips
over them.

2) when something new is introduced, it has to be 'just noticeably
different' and that requires a change on at least two dimensions--different
size, shape, font, color, etc. to be seen.  If you change it on only one
dimension, many people don't notice it.  In the industrial design
literature, this is called multi-diimensional coding.

Also, one more aside, and again anecdotal, I've seen people notice things if
they appear in a space where there was previously nothing.  If it's put in
to replace something and they've been looking at the page before, they won't
notice it.  This can also happen if you put something like advertising on
the first page in a specific location, then put something important in the
same location on lower pages (without being just noticeably different - Don
Norman has lots of references from psychology and perception on JND).
Essentially on the first pages you've taught people what to expect in that
location, and if it's an ad, they won't look there on subsequent pages.

Ron Perkins, Principal
Usability and Interaction Design Consulting

-----Original Message-----
From: Hal Shubin [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2007 12:37 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Banner blindness & eye tracking
Importance: Low

The links are to the original article on "banner blindness" and Don Norman's
review of it. To generalize in a few words, I think the term refers to two
things: (1) people don't look at things that look like ads, and (2) people
learn what data looks like in a given context, so they don't spend much time
looking at anything else.  I've always thought that people don't/can't see
things at the very top of a screen/window/page, either, which seems related
to #2.

I just did a study where none of the participants noticed some new small
navigation elements. They've all been using this system for many months and
knew their way around it, so I think they just didn't bother looking at or
looking for new items. It showed up in a number of cases. Fascinating (for
me) and frustrating (for my client).

As I was starting to write up my report, I wondered if anyone has done any
eye-tracking studies to see if this shows up as a difference between new and
experience users at a particular site or application.

thanks				-- hs

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