Top Eye Tracking System for Usability Testing

Ok, I know you came here looking for software or model recommendations for an ideal eye tracking system or a set of them to use for usability testing and design. And, I applaud you for realizing that eyetracking is such a hugely important thing in usability and in user experience.

Any successful artist, publisher or digital content designer worth their salt will tell you that working out a solid eye tracking system is important. Unfortunately for you, there’s no such thing as a fixed set of models, nor is there really any kind of software that can realistically test this sort of thing. Not in this century at least!

What is Eyetracking?:

Eyetracking is the science of charting the movements of the eyes from location to location on a screen or other form of display surface. Through charting this, one can deduce the order in which a user or viewer will take in the different aspects of a design when they first behold the sum of the parts.

This can allow users to determine if it’s leading them in the wrong order, and understanding it to a higher degree can let them forecast ideal eye tracking patterns and then build their layouts and aesthetics to match that particular pattern within reason.

Why is there No Software?:

Well, there are some attempts at software for this, but between you and me, screenshots of it working right usually are mockups, and not real. Here’s the thing. Eyetracking brings in optical recognition – something the human brain does naturally a few weeks after birth, but which a computer is too stupid to do imaginatively.

Along with this, parts of eyetracking is heuristic recognition of words both in image and actual text data form, as well as patterns and the like. Sorry, but for now, software that can do this and mimic the human brain’s actions while doing it of all things, just doesn’t exist.

So Now What?:

Well, there tend to be three patterns which seem to be desired. One is from the top, to the left, to the center and then down. This is common with WordPress templates, and other CMS systems as well.

But, a lot of social networks and software concepts tend to use left to center to right, which excludes the top from being an issue. You’ll notice the big deciding factor of which of these will happen is mostly what you do with that top bit.

Really? Surely There’s More … :

No, that’s really all I can say about predefined models or techniques with this, as it’s such a homeopathic thing, due to the human factor and the abstraction of optical recognition.

If you really want to see the pattern your design as it is creates, test it on people, and watch where they look.


Well, I can’t recommend a predefined eye tracking system because such a thing doesn’t exist yet. Once computers get smart enough to plot them accurate to how most humans will, and their heuristics can finally see the forest for the damn trees, then and only then will this change. For now, there’s just intuition and testing, testing and more testing!


Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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