I don't feel like eye-tracking is worth the money. I'm not saying it's not ever useful in any situation, but I'm saying that for me, as a usability practicioner, it's a waste of money.
The problem with eyetracking is that it LOOKS obvious, but the answers are far from obvious. They're difficult to analyze. Eyetracking only tells you what they're looking at, not WHY or what the CONTEXT is.
correctly interpreting this requires a nuanced view of human nature. un-nuanced view: men want to have sex with this baseball player. nuanced view: men size up other men as competition. we all know that because we're experts at being human, but we're not our users, so we already need to have nuanced understandings of our user and how they use our product, before we even start the eyetracking study.
Need to be clever in putting together the tasks, make sure we're asking the right questions and examining the right workflows. Need to be sensitive. Usability studies are always uncomfortable for the participant, especially once you start strapping people to them. If we pair people with unnatural tasks in a obviously closely moderated situation, we might end up with some very suspicious results, like... users actually reading a corporate vision statement.
A good eye tracking test setup eliminates as many of those confounding factors as possible. It needs to be very carefully written, very carefully observed, and very carefully analyzed. The results need to be triangulated with other information that we already have about the user's intentions and workflows. It requires a very skilled practitioner. But if you're that skilled...if you're good enough to successfully run a eye-tracking study...you're good enough to not need it!
if you're good enough to use the tool, you don't need the tool. Reminds me of Spaceballs. Scene: fighting with these lightsaber rings. Good guy loses ring, his mentor comes to him in a vision and says - Forget the ring! The ring is bupkis. You don't need the ring. the schwartz is IN YOU. The schwartz is in us! We don't need the fancy ring.
SO why does it seem so popular? Stakeholders seem to like it, because it's something that they can see and they can analyze themselves. I see it all the time with heat map analytics data. it LOOKS REAL. It looks like something they could do themselves! If your stakeholders really want it and you can't talk them out of it: This is a symptom of a trust issue between usability practitioner and stakeholders. They want to do it themselves for a reason. A lot of the stuff we do looks like magic. A black box - input mystery research, output results. Need to take time to explain methodology, rationale, analysis. Make your results a conversation - a dialogue. Allow stakeholders to participate in thinking about the data.
Other reason it's so popular: MERCHANDISING. We see vendors at conferences, and I've seen conference talks given by vendors themselves. Lotsa money in finding shiny new things for us UX folks to buy. But we don't need the ring.
Other reason it's so popular: MERCHANDISING. We see vendors at conferences, and I've seen conference talks given by vendors themselves. Lotsa money in finding shiny new things for us UX folks to buy.