Keep your eye on the ball
Technology that tracks eye movements across Web pages offers useful design insights for news sites — and sometimes uncomfortable truths. At the Online News Association conference in Toronto, two U.S. university researchers presented “heat maps” showing which parts of a Web page readers focus on, based on experiments that use an eye-tracking camera in the base of a computer monitor. But the information that the top-right corner of a page is a dead-zone for eye traffic was less interesting than the heat map for a picture of baseball player George Brett . While both men and women focused primarily on Brett’s face when asked to find a picture of him on a baseball site, one of the sexes also fixated on what the researchers coyly termed his “private anatomy.” The revelation that the wandering eyes belonged to the males was embarrassing enough for the men in the audience, but researchers Laura Ruel and Nora Paul had a further humiliation in store. They got the same results when they repeated the experiment with pictures on the American Kennel Club site.