An eye-tracking study of Pinterest users in Mashable yesterday offered several important findings, but I’d like to zero in on one that has changed how I think about using pictures of people in everything from Powerpoint slides to Facebook to website design.
First, follow the path traced by the eyes of subjects in the study.
The “eyes” have it
Now, focus first and second pictures viewed. Does it really make sense that a shoe is more attention grabbing picture than any other picture shown? I mean, it’s a nice shoe and all, but it’s not what I would have picked for second most interesting picture.
The explanation (for my money) starts with the woman in the black dress. Notice how her head is slightly turned? The angle of her gaze is directly as the shoe. Scientific studies have documented we are drawn to answer the question: “What is she (or he) looking at?” (In fact, the effect is so powerful, even dogs do it!)
Gaze can even direct our attention to text. A test by James Breeze at UsableWorld.com.au offers this powerful illustration. This is a “heat map” – the darker the shading, the longer the viewer’s eyes lingered on that part of the page.
Option A: In this version, the baby’s face attracts the most attention by far.
Option B: When the baby looks at the text, so do you.
This holds true on Facebook too. After faces, where’s the attention focused in this study of Good Morning America’s Facebook Timeline? Answer: At the center of the gaze of all the people in the picture.
Have you intentionally used gaze in a image to direct viewers? Where could you see this tactic being most useful?
We’ve only pulled one of several important lessons out of James Breeze’s post at UsableWorld, don’t miss the rest.