Stop Relying On These 3 Eye-Tracking Myths

Spelled out on a post-it on the whiteboard behind me is the quote, “Everything you’re doing is made up.” I scribbled it down while listening to a successful serial entrepreneur give a talk on growth hacking the other day. It resonated because it’s simple, straight to the point, and true:


All this shit is totally made up.



The internet works so quickly and people are so easily bored/distracted/ohlookshinythings that keeping up with everything is simply not enough. Startup founders are constantly reinventing the wheel if they want their businesses to succeed.


A recent study from EyeQuant – a company that has developed a system based on eye-tracking studies in order to determine exactly how your website should be laid out for maximum conversion – highlights just how important it is to critically examine whatever the current “common knowledge” is when it comes to online businesses.


They de-bunked three hugely popular assumptions about how your website should look.

The data set for this study included 46 participants who bought products on 200 AdWords eCommerce pages. The researchers found that the participants were looking at each webpage for around 15 seconds (+/- 6 seconds) and the whole study was conducted in the Neurobiopsychology Lab tat the University in Germany.


1. People will always go right to faces.

The EyeQuant study found that, yes, people do like to look at other people’s faces. However, contrary to popular belief, we don’t always go right to the faces. Sometimes we look at banners or text instead.




Another common assumption is that even if we don’t look at the face itself, we follow the gaze of the face pictured. So if you have something you want the user to look at, have an image of someone looking at it.


Makes totally logical sense but the fact is, people simply aren’t totally logical. EyeQuant found (again) that sometimes people follow the gaze and sometimes they don’t.


Lesson learned: Don’t rely on other people’s faces to draw attention where you want it to go.


2. People like LARGE TEXT.

People’s eyes are obviously drawn to big fonts, right? Wrong. EyeQuant found that people actually look away from larger fonts. They hypothesize that this could be a result of “banner blindness.”


big text


Lesson learned: Basically, we’ve all become immune to ads all over the internet trying to sell us crap by screaming at us in large text. Time to let this assumption drop to the wayside.


3. Everyone wants FREE!

Yeah, okay, that’s probably true: people do like free stuff. However, the word free was found to draw much less attention than EyeQuant originally hypothesized it would. They point out that it’s still a valuable tool in the toolbox of getting people’s attention, but not one that companies should rely on.


In this test, for example, attention was highly focused on the model in a bikini and almost not at all on the text containing the word free.




Lesson learned: Boobs win over free, every time.


So what’s the big takeaway?

Don’t run on common knowledge. Test, test, test. Everything you’re doing is made up.


Complicatedly simple, isn’t it?


Photo Credits