Expectations have never been higher among consumers for products and services that 'just work'. It's no longer enough to have something that's simply good enough; and delivering a website or digital service that's anything short of intuitive to use will send customers into the arms of competitors. Companies have realized the importance of UX testing and design, and those who work in this field are embracing a raft of new technology which is enabling them to get a deeper level of understanding into how users interact with their products.
Eye tracking has long been tied to UX research and revered for its ability to reveal the WHY behind people's actions and deliver a great breadth of quantitative data on human behavior and interaction. Now this technology is becoming more accessible to the wider community of UX designers.
We sat down with Teresia Schullström, a UX designer at Avanza, Sweden's largest online stockbroker, to discuss how the company uses eye tracking in the design and development of their services.
A: It's vitally important for us that a user's experience is virtually seamless; that's what sets us apart from the competition and we want to take advantage of that. We operate solely in an online environment, so we depend on having not only a fully functioning platform, but one which our customers can depend on and feel confident using.
A: We user test everything, and the more important features we test many times. It's not just in the beginning either, we are continually reviewing and making changes to ensure we keep up with customers' needs, and also stay one step ahead in coming up with new features or ways to make it easier for people to manage their finances with us. When you're dealing with something as important and emotive as people's money, you need to make sure customers have the confidence in you to make big financial decisions; and delivering a reliable and easy to use platform is a crucial part of that.
A: We have a range of tools; one-on-one observations, interviews, surveys, and now eye tracking is a huge complement to these. It answers a lot of questions which come up from other testing methods and even highlights some questions we weren't aware of.
A: We use eye tracking at several stages; from the initial testing to ongoing optimization. We generally have the test participant complete set tasks using our website on a computer with the eye tracker while a moderator sits with him or her, we also generally have our broader UX team, designers, and sometimes other stakeholders watching the live-view of the data from another part of the office. When they have questions, they're able to message the moderator who asks the participant to clarify why they did something, or what they thought about particular things.
A: Eye tracking is useful to understand the customers better than they understand themselves sometimes. Often, it can be difficult for them to remember exactly what they were doing or thinking and why, but because you see exactly what they looked at you can pause and ask them to explain their train of thought in the moment and that's incredibly valuable to truly understand user experience.
A: We use eye tracking alongside many of our existing tools to complete the missing pieces of the puzzle. For example if the user is given a task like creating and opening an account, we might be able to see from the eye tracking that they looked at the menu or button which takes them to that feature, but they didn't complete the task, so from this we can see that the feature was visible, but we need to improve the communication around how to complete this task. Eye tracking can also help reveal where people naturally gravitate to when searching for particular information like the 'contacts' or 'help' section and even how they search for more complex information like definitions and explanations of some of our products.
A: For us the live-viewing feature is great. As we're a bank dealing with sensitive information we can't record any of our sessions, but the live-view allows us to show the broader design team what happens during user testing and it really gives them greater empathy with our customers. It also delivers clear evidence of design flaws or usability problems, so it removes the need for a lot of internal debate – the eye tracking information says it all and because you can see what they are looking at in real-time you can ask questions and get immediate answers as they are completing the given task, it's really helpful.
Teresia Schullström is a UX designer for Avanza. She has a Masters in Media Technology and Human Computer Interaction and has 6 years experiencing working with user research and UX design.