Eye Tracking and The Best UX Practices in The Mobile World

In today’s world, usability testing is critical for designing user-friendly interfaces. These tests take on different forms and methods that help designers identify usability issues. This is critical when analyzing the bridge between design expectations and user behavior. Sensory-based technology, such as eye-tracking, has been revolutionary in gaining deeper insights on how users interact with technology.

Eye Tracking is a usability method and tool that reveals users’ focus points and navigational patterns on a given interface. It provides designers with thorough feedback on which interface elements are visible and attention-grabbing. It also effectively evaluates design/content hierarchy. Eye Tracking is an insightful form of research technique, which determines the user’s focus and attention of the user.

Eye Tracking for a Mobile-Centric World

Considering that more than 80% of the population has access to mobile devices, the percentage of mobile internet usage is surpassing traditional computing platform usage. Today’s world is mobile-centric. Thus, making it important to focus on the usability of mobile devices.

Jen Romano Bergstrom, a User Experience Specialist conducted a research study to compare the user experience of the same interface across multiple devices using eye tracking. As a result, she uncovered different issues across different devices. Below is the heat map of the data. The red spots are the main focus points, and the green and yellow are the areas which get less attention from the users. It is clearly visible that users have a different area of focus for the same interface on different devices.


Image from Jen Romano Bergstrom’s eye-tracking research

Best UX Practices for Mobile Devices

Steve Krug, an information architect and user experience professional who is best known for his book “Don’t Make Me Think – A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability”, mentioned that designers keep in mind that the users first read before act. Content is read through before other links are carefully chosen and clicked. The reality is that people don’t read everything, they just read what they want to. This is a big takeaway, and reinforces the importance of usability tools such as the eye-tracking device.

Image from Steve Krug’s book – “Don’t Make Me Think”

Jen Romano Bergstrom explained some key guidelines on the best UX practices that every User Experience professional should follow. These practices were drafted after several eye tracking researches were performed.

1. Functional icons across devices

Icons and images should be clickable across the devices as users expect them to be interactive. Making things clickable on the homepage will help make the page more intuitive.

2. Clear and precise error messages

If an error message pops up, it should explain what the error message is all about. Below is the example from one of Jen’s research. On the left side, an error message popped up. However, it was not clear to state which mandatory field was to be filled. On the right side of are the user’s gaze plots. The user is trying to search all over the screen for the mandatory field which is left. So, the error message should clearly point out the problem in order for the user to quickly move forward.


Image from Jen Romano Bergstrom’s eye-tracking research


3. Consistent layout across devices

Keeping in mind that the users have access to multiple devices, an interface’s layout should be consistent across various mobile devices. The flow of information should remain the same as good design gives users a consistent mental model throughout all platforms.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that eye-tracking is a time consuming and expensive process, it is a very useful technique to gain deep insights on a particular product. As far as the use of eye tracking in mobile devices is concerned, there is a lot more to explore in this area. Following these suggested UX practices will significantly improve the user’s experience.

References

http://bit.ly/2AGPlkz

https://www.slideshare.net/JenniferRomanoBergstrom/eye-tracking-the-ux-of-mobile-what-you-need-to-know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfzTevZZ-z0&t=326s

Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug, 2006

Design Critique: Splitwise (iOS App)

Splitwise is an IOU managing application providing its users a hassle free method of splitting their expenses with family and friends. This cloud-based application eliminates the need to keep paper bills and helps in keeping a track of your debts in a simple ledger format.

Based in Rhode Island, Splitwise makes the life easier as it lets the users pay their debts via PayPal or Venmo.

Don Norman once said, “Knowing how people will use something is essential.” Following his guidelines, Splitwise has perfectly used two of the most important characteristics of good design: Discoverability and Understanding. On signing up, the application clearly indicates what are the possible actions and how to perform them.

Simplified User Interface

Splitwise has a very simple user interface which is very easy to use. The home screen of the application has three tabs: you owe, you are owed and the total balance which helps the user in keeping a track of their debts. Following Norman’s Design Principles, this application has clear and precise ‘Signifiers’ for the navigation options wherein the user can browse the list of friends, make groups, track activities, add a bill and can access the settings of the application. Splitwise has also adopted Apple’s 3D Touch feature in order to enhance the user experience as they can simply view the balances or can add a bill using the 3D Touch feature.

While going through the app, I think the user has to scroll all over the friend list in order to search for a friend whose name starts with ’S’. This can be a little frustrating if he has a long list of friends on Splitiwise. To avoid this, I would recommend them to have a search option for a better and enhanced user experience as it will be more convenient for the users to navigate to a particular account.

 

Above Video shows the recommended search icon

Group Summary and Spreadsheets

As I said before that this application helps in keeping a track of your debts in a simple ledger format. It allows the user to generate and export a detailed ledger so that the users can keep a track of all the activity with date, description, total cost, etc. It also provides an option for generating a group summary wherein the user can track the total group spending, total amount user paid, total share and remaining balance.

Push Notifications and Reminders

I think Splitwise has done a wonderful job when it comes to following Norman’s Design Principles. This application is magnificent in providing Feedback. It sends push notifications and emails to the user whenever any activity is added or deleted. It has an activity tab wherein the user can keep a track of all the activity with any other user. Splitwise also has an option for sending reminders where the user can generate gentle messages for due payments.

Simplify Group Debts

As the application’s main objective is to help users simplify their debts, Simplify Group Debts is one of the best features of Splitwise wherein the user allows the application to restructure debt within groups and across friendships.

Settle Up and Payment Gateways

Splitwise users have an option of ‘Settle Up’ wherein they can settle theirs accounts with other users using PayPal or Venmo. I believe this is a Constraint as it restricts the users to use these two payment gateways in order to process payment for Splitwise accounts. I would recommend them to add more payment options so that it is easy and convenient for the users to process payment for Splitwise accounts.

Considering all this, Splitwise is a user-friendly application which provides its users with an easy and systematic way of maintaining accounts for various expenses incurred with friends or family. I firmly believe that it has followed the various design principles in the best possible way. However, some improvements in the application can enhance the user experience but as Don Norman said “In my opinion, no single design is apt to be optimal for everyone.”, It is really hard to fit everyone’s need.