Product Review: De-Clutter Your Website for Less: Using EyeQuant for Cleaner Design
Can neuroscience produce a quick and inexpensive tool to take the place of eye-tracking studies? I tried out a system developed by Berlin-based EyeQuant, which was started by a group of neurologists, to see how it rated the visual appearance of several websites. The EyeQuant tool was developed from data collected from large-scale online studies to predict where on a webpage people would focus their attention on. The intent was to provide a cheaper alternative to eye tracking, without the need for bulky, complex equipment or even study participants. EyeQuant allows you to either type in an URL of a website or upload an image of a webpage, and the demo analysis takes only a couple of minutes to produce 5 different maps of a single webpage and an overall Visual Clarity Score.
I found the demo version of the tool fun to play with and easy to use (you can test 2 different pages for free). EyeQuant was developed specifically for e-commerce sites, so content-intensive sites most likely will get low scores, since the tool considers dense text as “visually busy” and “clutter” (per the EyeQuant website). Although the EyeQuant tool can generate a summary in report form of the maps, I noticed it does not provide the typical level of analysis possible from live researchers who conduct a full eye-tracking test. EyeQuant’s report used boilerplate copy along with the screenshots, so it lacked specific details and did not include recommendations for improving the website (a recommendation tool is in the works, however).
Not surprisingly, this type of template also did not tie everything together into a cohesive narrative, but instead presented the different maps in a disjointed manner. Additionally, since this analysis did not involve live participants, there was no user feedback, which is a key component of usability research. It is very important to keep in mind that this tool is predictive in nature, rather than based on actual user responses to the selected website, and the accuracy of the analysis (versus one conducted by user researchers) is difficult to ascertain. The EyeQuant tool can provide quick and inexpensive feedback suitable for early stages of the design and development process. For now, though, it can’t replace the richness and scope of actual data and analytical solutions produced by full eye-tracking and usability tests, which still form the most reliable basis for making critical business decisions.
-Linda Hwang, Usability Sciences, Senior User Experience Analyst