A close up of a woman's eye while she's looking at something.

Website Design and Eye Movements: Can We Use Both to Make the Best User Experience?

newexecdigi Digital Marketing Experts

In today’s tech savvy, story-absorbing society, the message your website tells about your brand is essential. The moment a user visits your homepage, you have but a few moments to communicate and convince them to stay.

The web is inundated with impeccable design and saturated so densely with good brands, we have to compete to stand out. What does this mean for your brand? It means that if you have too much information presented right away or a design that is chaotic and displeasing to the eye, your consumer has other options for their attention. They don’t need to stay on a poorly constructed site and attempt to navigate; they’ve got another site in their search results offering similar products and a smoother viewing experience.

So what can you do to make sure that your website isn’t chasing potential clients away from your brand? Develop a solid website design strategy and cater it to your consumer market. We’ll get into responsive website design layouts and elements in just a moment.

First, we need to address a vital, often overlooked, element in the web viewing experience:  eye saccades. The saccade definition is explained as a rapid movement of the eye between fixation points. This describes the little hops your eye is making right now, moving from word to word in order read the content of this post.  

Let’s look at what we know about saccades and how to incorporate the insight into website design best practices.

  • Fewer saccades result in better information retention.  This means that having fewer focal points on your site is better. If there are too many areas of content, too many presentations of widgets or the layout requires the viewer to scan the entire page to absorb a message, that message is not likely to be absorbed. In general, we all know the feeling of being overwhelmed by a busy design. Now, we understand the science behind this feeling.  
  • Saccades can be influenced by muscle memory. So, if you need to present multiple elements on a page, keeping the layout consistent can help improve your viewer’s experience.  At first glance, it might appear overwhelming.  But if it is the same each time the viewer returns, their eyes will remember where to fall right away to find the relevant information.  
  • Linear saccade movement is easier to digest. Presenting multiple product choices is often inevitable. Presenting them in a linear, logical fashion helps the reader keep the elements mentally organized. It’s easier to make a choice on which one to click.
  • Dominance guides saccades. Imagine you are at the beach, scanning the horizon.  Your eyes fall from surfer to seagull to ship to ship. They bounce from the most dominant focal point to the next dominant focal point. The same experience is facilitated on your website, and implemented wisely, can strategically guide viewers through and to the content you most want them to see. Using dominant focal points are especially helpful in making a cluttered design less complicated to digest. Some ways to create dominance:
  1. Position
  2. Size
  3. Contrast
  4. Movement
  5. Color
  • Saccades facilitate reading. Placing text centrally creates an easy absorption point. Shorter lines make for a better facade traveling experience. Try to keep content running in three to four-inch column lengths.  Bullet points keep the focal points consistent and easy to follow.  The short of the long?  Less text is best.

Now that we have an idea of how the eye is working when visiting a website, we can dive into the best ways to keep design simple, digestible and appealing to users.

  • Home page is everything. Before a viewer goes into any of your content- writing, photo galleries, videos, curated threads, etc.- they’re coming to your home page. This is your first chance to impress them. Show that you care about your brand presentation. You’ve invested in your website and you have put in the effort to make sure that your audience will have an enjoyable time flipping through your site.  Photos are a clean, sophisticated way to capture your audience’s attention. One photo expresses a thousand words, right?  By hosting only an image, some simple copy and a button or two, you make the decision to click and retain your brand message a piece of cake!   
  • Establish your voice.  Right away, use a tagline that perfectly presents to your audience what your brand vibe is.  Are you serious and to the point? Wittier than a meme? Chic and simple? However, your brand expresses itself, use a quick phrase to welcome readers to the site and let them know what they’re in for.  
  • Choose one moment.  Your brand has a lot at play.  You have many services, products, and team members, and each element comes with an incredible story. Save the stories.  Save the stacks of information. Hone in one aspect, one element of one story that serves as an example of your brand, and expose it. If you are a catering company, show one image of an event that naturally portrays the love of friends and family around food.  This communicates right away to the consumer that when using your service, they’ll have the same reaction. You can tell all the ways you help save them time and money on the next pages.
  • Less is more.  When you’re starting out, don’t overcomplicate your website! Plan for only what you positively need.  High-tech widgets and features might impress your consumer, but they’ll get annoyed if it doesn’t work well or serve a relevant purpose.  Less is more, less is more!

One of the most important elements of design is the constant evolution of the user experience.  The more users engage with tech outside of reading and shopping, the more they get used to a certain presentation of information. Staying on top of entertainment consumption trends and applying them to your website will dramatically increase your viewer’s experience and increase the likelihood of consumer action on your site.  
For more information on web design and guidance through your digital branding, contact our team at Executive Digital.