Tag Archives: CRO

How Many Seconds Does Your Website Have to Capture User Attention?

“You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention.”


Bet you’ve heard that one before. It rings true in landing page optimization as much as it does at a cocktail party.

Since the dawn of the Internet age, talk of dwindling web-user attention-spans has become common-place. Whether the actual number is one second or ten, the fact of the matter is that landing pages only have a moment to draw the user in.

In this EyeQuant blog post, we’ll take a look at:

  • Why these precious seconds count
  • Why users might be leaving your landing page before you’ve had the chance to tell them your story.
  • How to capture – and maintain – user attention with scientifically-informed hints!

Why the first moments are important:

This is Your Brain on Internet

If you’ve read the EyeQuant blog before, you’ve likely come in contact with themes like the “attention economy” and “cognitive load”, terms that describe the difficulty for the human mind to deal with the scope of information available to us at any given time. On a daily basis, the Internet presents its users with an unquantifiable measure of content for potential browsing behaviour.

The problem is, our attention spans to process all this information are finite, and our ability to multi-task isn’t as good as we’d like to think it is.

Seasoned internet users and internet addicts’ neural pathways have been shown to have altered as they experience heightened activity in their pre-frontal cortexes (the area of the brain that is mostly responsible for processing complex thoughts, personality expressions, decision making, and social behaviour), and as a result tend to improve on their hand-eye coordination and processing visual cues. However, this fundamental “re-wiring” of our brains as a result of heightened Internet use means that “we read faster and less thoroughly as soon as we go online”, according to Nicholas Carr in his seminal Wired article from 2010. Carr reported that it is not only the span and scope of information that is detrimental to our ability to focus, but the speed and simultaneity at which we are exposed to it. Hyperlinks, advertisements, share buttons, and cues to related content are just some of the distracting influences that drive users away from the seemingly simple act of reading and exploring, not to mention the constant pressure of open chat windows, email updates, and social media connectivity. The bottom line: Attention is a limited resource, so use it wisely and avoid superfluous visual pathways and exits.

The Weibull Distribution Theory

In 2011, the always insightful Nielsen/Norman Group posted an article explaining Weibull Distribution (a theory originally formulated in 1951 to calculate the likelihood of “system failure” in machines) in online marketing terms. Researchers at Microsoft used the Weibull Distribution theory as an analogy to talk about the likelihood that a user will abandon a page early. The research revealed intriguing data, suggesting that around 99% of websites are susceptible to “Negative Aging”.

What does that mean? Simply put, users typically “screen and glean” a website during the first moments of their visit in order to assess whether they have come to the right place. If a website passes this initial skimming test, the site is more likely to be explored longer and more thoroughly. Meanwhile, if a website is deemed by the user to be unhelpful, the user is likely to leave within the first moments of their visit, and not wait around to see if their minds can be changed.

Microsoft and N/N Group’s research is significant because they demonstrate a quantifiable reason why users leave a website, and what the benefits of capturing initial attention are. N/N Group concluded their article by suggesting that “bad” websites would be abandoned in the first 10 seconds, while “good” websites tend to be explored for 2 minutes or more. The shortcoming of their otherwise excellent research is clear: We need to understand what makes a good website good, and what makes a bad one bad to a user.

So, we’re inundated with information and distractions, and as web designers, marketers, and UX/UI professionals, we need to figure out a way to capture and maintain user attention by understanding what makes a user decide to stay longer. How do we do that?

  1. Make your most important information the most attention grabbing.

In Proctor & Gamble’s world, the “First Moment of Truth” is the most crucial time-frame to engage consumers; their research suggests that the moment a consumer encounters a product is approximately the moment they will make up their mind to buy it or not. As our frequent readers will know, EyeQuant scientific board members explained why this was the case in a study from 2012, effectively suggesting that a product must visually “pop out” for it to be noticed. If it pops out, it’s likely to be chosen. In web design, the name of the game isn’t to make your entire website bright and shiny, but to recognize and select only the most important elements (like your value proposition, or call-to-action), then make them stand out against everything else. How do you do that? Understanding and creating contrast is one thing, but here’s another:

  1. De-clutter unnecessary elements on your page.

De-cluttering draws attention to the important elements on your page by removing inessential information like pop-up ads and secondary value propositions/ call-to-actions. The more space you give to your important content, the more visible it becomes – just think flickr, twitter, airbnb, or even Facebook’s new design.

But wait, there’s another reason why you should give your page a Spring cleaning: The more information you hurl at your users, the more often they will have to shift their focus. De-cluttering your landing page provides a debris-free navigational path, and will direct them more quickly and more efficiently to what is important.

  1. Simplify: give users with one task, not dozens.

We humans aren’t really able to simultaneously juggle information and tasks, our brains must simply switch back and forth between differing information, which is a taxing endeavour, to say the least. Giving your user at calm environment in which they can explore your offer reduces stress and simplifies the task-at-hand. How do you know if you’re demanding too much of your users?

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Do you have multiple call-to-action buttons and multiple offers scattered all over the page?

  • Is the important information on your page consistently organised in terms of color and size?

  • Does a user need to machete their way through a lot of other content to go from your value proposition to your call to action?

EyeQuant just released a case-study with fashion site SalesGossip that does a great job of illustrating this need for a singular and easy-to-follow flow. By simplifying and consistently organizing the content on their page, SalesGossip improved its navigational flow – and achieved an instant 30% boost in sign-ups along the way. Take a look at these EyeQuant perception maps showing the site before and after its design change. The success of the attention flow in Version B is clear:

But what about websites that require a lot of information available at any given time, like an e-commerce site? Part of Spring cleaning isn’t just throwing out the page elements that you don’t need anymore, it’s also about organising the remaining contents in a consistent, understandable manner. Despite its slow loading time, Spice Girl – cum – lauded fashion designer Victoria Beckham just launched a strikingly simple, consistently organised e-shop. Part of simplifying the path your user can take is, once again, to remove distraction-worthy elements. Too many hyperlinks, buttons to click, or alternate pathways provide too many options to leave the process you want your users to go through.

Don’t worry, we’re not all web zombies…yet.

In past blog posts, we’ve spoken a lot about attention-driven design. Designing a website with user attention in mind isn’t just about directing their focus to your most important content, it’s also about creating and promoting a calm place for users to concentrate.  Think of your users as Lawrence of Arabia, and you are an oasis amongst the chaos of shadowless, scorpion-ridden, sand storm-prone desert! Designing conscientiously with the overarching stresses of the web in mind won’t only help boost your own usability and conversions, but will play a part in helping the Internet become a calmer, easier place to exist in.

Here at EyeQuant, we’ve figure out that the easiest and most precise way to make sure that a user’s attention is being directed to the right places is through automated attention analysis. Our neuroscientific A.I. provides instant insight into the ways in which users see your website within the first moments of their visit. Give it a try – the first time is free, all you need is a URL!

6 Ways to Achieve an Instant 30% Sign-Up Boost: An EyeQuant Case-Study (Fashion E-Commerce)

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SalesGossip directs savvy deal-hunters to the latest sales and promotions of their favourite brands. Users sign-up to access the details of each sale event, and opt-in to receiving emails to be notified about future deals.

SalesGossip recently overhauled their entire website using EyeQuant to test and compare changes along the way, and in doing so achieved an instant 30% boost in sign-ups. Not only this, but SalesGossip made some excellent fundamental changes to their core branding and content, putting them in line with the look and feel of other fashion websites in their ecosystem.

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To find out how SalesGossip made such a great leap, let’s take a look at one of their “Sale” pages.

  • Make It Easier to “Stay Tuned”

EyeQuant’s “Regions-of-Interest” function lets us measure how attention-grabbing a specific region of a page is in comparison to the average pixel on the page. Here, we can see that the “notify me about future sales” call-to-action went from 4% to 43% more attention-grabbing than the average pixel on the page. Why?

Even though Version A’s “Follow Selfridges” button is colorful and flanked by starred, bold black text, the button isn’t placed in a prominent location, and its light green color doesn’t produce enough contrast against its white background. In Version B, the user’s eye is drawn toward the “notify me about…” region thanks to the grey box that surrounds it, as well as its far more central location.

  • Give Users An Idea of What They’re In For

Version A doesn’t give the user much of an idea of what they might expect from Selfridge’s; they simply see a logo and a pair of shoes that don’t necessarily conform to the brand’s identity. In Version B, an ad campaign image from Selfridge’s takes centre stage. In this way, the user can instantly gauge the feel of the brand while being directed through a navigational path that is consistent with the overall aesthetic of the page.

  • Let Users Sign in with Facebook

30% of Facebook’s 500 million + users use Facebook Connect to log in to third party sites every month. SalesGossip used this knowledge to make their Facebook Connect CTA stand out with a blue button against an otherwise grayscale, monochrome scheme.

  • Bring Attention to the Community You’re Creating

Nobody will deny that the marriage of e-commerce and fashion editorial has become a strong one. Bloggers sit in the front row of fashion week, while Harvard Business School offers a course on just this subject. SalesGossip placed their “style journal” – a fashion editorial guide for their users – in a prominent position on the page in order to engage potential users and make them feel part of a fashion community.

  • Consistency Creates Flow – and Flow Creates Consistency

Recent studies into the science of human attention show that, rather unsurprisingly, it’s more difficult for us to find things in a messy environment. Scientists at MIT were able to hone in on one point in particular, though: too much variation in size, color, and texture is confusing. Even though Version A provided all the information a user might need, its organization was inconsistent, with too many varying sizes and colors scattered across the page. Version B’s flow becomes clear using EyeQuant’s Perception Map, where spotlighted areas show what users will see in the first 3 seconds. As opposed to Version A, where the user’s eye is jumping all over the page, Version B provides a focused path, putting the user at ease.

  • Align Your Color Scheme with Your Niche

Coco Chanel made black and white a chic staple in fashion in the 1920’s, and this trend continues today. Sites like Net-A-Porter, Neiman Marcus, ASOS, and TopShop adhere to a monochromatic black & white color scheme to impress a sense of sartorial savvy upon their users. By following their lead, SalesGossip effectively aligns themselves with the online fashion eco-system, allowing potential and current users to more immediately identify the site’s relevance in its field.


  • Create Space

In Version A, two banners of color flanked either end of the page, drawing the eye to the outer edges of the page; in Version B, this colorful background is replaced by white, centralizing the user’s focus and calming the visual path. Creating white space around important elements eases and smoothes the process of user attention, quite simply reducing the amount of information competing for user attention.

Using EyeQuant’s instant visualisations, the reasons why SalesGossip is achieving better conversions become clear: their new site flows from one element to the next with simplicity  – and just the right amount of design flair.

Key Takeaways

  • Determine how users can “stay-tuned”, and make this element easy to access.

  • Let users sign-in via social media.

  • Engage users with a sense of community via relevant editorial content.

  • Create “flow” by organizing and prioritizing content with consistent colors, sizes, and organizational groupings.

  • Know your ecosystem, and plan your color scheme accordingly.

  • Create space for the user to explore by de-cluttering unnecessary copy and design touches. Remember: Function over Form!


Want to instantly find out how users are seeing your website during the first moments of their visit?

Don’t worry, we’ve already done most of the work for you:

All you need to do is to visit EyeQuant and upload a URL or a screenshot of any webpage.

Your first test is always free, and we’re always happy to speak to you about how you can make your results work for you.



Landing Page Blind Spots are Killing Your Conversion – 3 Secrets to Make Your CTA Pop


The funny thing about working really, really, hard on something is that it tends to take someone completely outside of the task-at-hand to point out its most banal – and the most obvious – problems. When building and improving a landing page, collecting data on user attention isn’t just important for improving usability, it is also necessary to catch conversion killers that may have gone unnoticed – but have been staring you in the face the whole time.

This blog will explain why seeing isn’t always believing, how to find blind spots on your landing page’s design, and why the key to all this is understanding a little bit of neuroscience.

Change Blindness & Multitasking

We tend to like to think of ourselves as multi-tasking pro’s these days; we talk on the phone as we drive, we scan our Facebook account as we speak to someone, we check our email or text while walking…

Or at least, we think we can multi-task. In fact, not only are we often blind to our own mistakes, but we humans aren’t even as good at multi-tasking as we would like to think we are:


Photographer Philippe Halsman on Multitasking

Our brains tend to prioritise information, filtering out what doesn’t seem to be immediately necessary, but also switching between tasks in terms of priority. In a study from 2010, researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study requiring a test-subject to switch between tasks during an FMRI scan. As the test was carried out, researchers found that there was always a little time lag during which the test-subject would switch from one task to another. The reason for this is quite simple: we humans can only direct so much attention to one thing at any given time, and so can only give a finite amount of energy to single task at a time.

Quick Takeaway: Make life simple for your users by giving them one clear, simple task when they arrive at your landing page.

Quick Takeaway: Users are busy people, and in order for them to instantly notice and understand what you do, why you do it, and where they can click your CTA, these elements need to stand out like a sore thumb in contrast to other, less important information.

  • While our brains are constantly scanning for information to consciously direct our attention to, spotting changes to our surroundings can be surprisingly difficult. This phenomenon is called Change Blindness. Researchers at Queen Mary University built an Artificial Intelligence that uses a computer algorithm to make changes to an image in order to test a subject’s visual perception of its changes. Just like EyeQuant, their AI uses objective data on the human visual attention system to produce a pre- and post-change images that are identically attention-grabbing, so that the researchers can study where someone will look in a scene to spot the difference, and what makes us notice the change. Most interestingly, the researchers found that we are more likely to spot the difference in a scene if an object has been removed than if the object has changed color.

Quick Takeaway: Identifying what to A/B test can be confusing because it is difficult to pick up on subtle visual problems that our brains automatically filters out. Small changes to color and size thus go unnoticed, which is why objective Artificial Intelligence is so insightful in letting us understand what our eyes (and brains) will direct attention to – and what they will ignore.


See the gorilla? Most don’t. Check out Daniel Simon’s video on Change Blindness by clicking on the image.

Blind Spots

Chances are, you’ve done a great job of trying to understand your users: who they are, what you can offer them, and the circumstances in which they’re most likely to convert. As the studies above illustrate, though, it’s surprising how oblivious we can be to our own work, not to mention to the users that we are working for. As a result, landing pages almost always have a few blind spots: information that should be getting user attention, but are simply ignored – even if it’s in a user’s best interest to find it.

In fact, the human visual attention system directs attention based on a few dozen basic visual features, and when a user arrives at your landing page, those features kick into motion to help the user decide what they should be looking for. There are many visual features that infinitely combine to direct visual attention, but here are the 3 most important ones:

  1. Contrast: Essentially, our attention tends to be drawn to areas of a website that have the brightest contrast. This is why, for example, a black-bordered, orange call-to-action button against a white background gets so much initial attention; this combination simply “pops out” at the viewer.
  2. Space: The more “white space” around an important element, the more it will stand out to a user. Like contrast, this may seem intuitive, but many landing pages don’t give the chance for the stars of their show to shine. The best way to make room for your important elements? Remove less urgent information, group them together, and move them aside.
  3. Placement: We tend to read landing pages like we would a book, starting at the top left corner and snaking our way down. For this reason, user attention is almost guaranteed to start in the top left and pause somewhere in the mid-centre-right of a landing page.

If your most important elements – What your page is about, Why the user should care, and Where they can go next – don’t take these features into account, chances are they will end up in a blind spot.


How to Find Blind Spots

So, how do you know if your call-to-action is hiding in the dark?

EyeQuant’s Perception Map takes the guesswork out of analysing your own work and understanding your users by precisely predicting user attention based on a complex list of features that direct user attention. Areas that are visible to a user within the first few seconds of visiting your page are highlighted, while any information which will be initially ignored remains in the shadows.

Take a look at two examples of car rental pages to see what we mean:

  • EyeQuant’s Perception Map of this Hertz Rental Car page shows that user attention immediately focuses on information at the top of the page, luckily including their logo, and a bit of copy about why their offer is great, but their CTA and search form are completely in the dark.

  • EyeQuant customer Sixt, meanwhile, have done an amazing job of making sure that none of their important information is hiding in a blind spot. Not only can the user immediately see what the company is about (“car rental since 1912), why Sixt is a great choice (“from $10.99/day” offer), and an attention grabbing green “Continue” CTA, but the unmessy search boxes stand out perfectly even against product images, conveniently hidden for further navigation below.


The Blind Leading the Blind

Building a landing page without a proper understanding of user attention can be a little bit like the blind leading the blind: You will be in the dark as to what your user sees and doesn’t see, and your user simply won’t be able to see what it is that you do, why they should care, and where they can go next if they like what they see. The result of this inability ends up looking a little like this painting by Bruegel:

So, what can you do? Use the technology available to you with EyeQuant to understand and accurately predict what a user will see – and what they will miss. We’re already performing this job for industry leaders like Google, Spotify, and Sixt, so why not take the chance to bring your landing page out of the dark – and start selling.

Image Credits:
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Blind Leading the Blind, 1568.
Philippe Halsman, Jean Cocteau, 1948.
Daniel Simons, Selective Attention Test, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo, 2010. (www.theinvisiblegorilla.com)

How to Find a Common Language in Design Meetings


When we set out to build EyeQuant, our primary objective was to build the world’s best tool to instantly optimize user attention on websites. Along the way, though, we found that our customers often employ our software in an additional context, using their EyeQuant results as an objective voice during face to face conversations, bridging the gap between intuition and analytics. To this end, we weren’t surprised to find that others – namely a research team at MIT – share this finding.

Ruth Rosenholtz is a senior researcher in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and focusses her research on human visual perception and the impact of visual clutter on task performance, using computational models and behavioral studies to research user interface (UI) and information visualization (infovis) solutions. One of her main goals is to study tools that provide “guidance on perceptual aspects of design”.

In a recent field study, Rosenholtz and her colleagues collaborated with designers and design teams to determine how effective these perceptual models are in guiding the design process.While her prototypes certainly achieve this aim, they also yielded another intriguing result:

“The most powerful potential use of perceptual tools”, says Rosenholtz, “is as a facilitator of conversations among multidisciplinary team members about design intuitions and design goals.”

How Come?

Because quantitative design models and tools help create what Rosenholtz calls a “common perceptual language”. In other words, with a simple and objective design visualizations of otherwise intuitive and often difficult to grasp processes, designers are able to cross disciplinary communications boundaries.

At EyeQuant, our A.I. was designed to be used online, but its impact is also felt when it is used offline in design and brand meetings. Everyone in a meeting possesses their own expertise, intuitions, and personal tastes, but few have objective, compelling data to back up their arguments.

We believe that artificial intelligence and neuroscience make the designers’ and marketers’ lives easier, not just because the software we build provides highly accurate, data-driven insight into online user attention, but also because the visualizations our customers receive as results create a common language for the whole office, from marketing and sales teams to designers and developers.

When someone tests their web page with us, four predictive visualizations of initial user attention – a perception map, a heat map, a click map, and an interactive ‘regions-of-interest’ map – are instantly produced, all of which can then be easily exported to .pdf format for use in presentations and pitches.

There is a not-so-quiet revolution occurring in meeting rooms all over the world: It is the evolution of data not just as a slide in a keynote presentation, but as a new, highly rational member of the team who is able to unite the complex, creative world of design with the analytics-rich galaxy of marketing and conversion rate optimization.

EyeQuant is excited about our leadership role in this new field, and are currently working on features that support this use case, particularly for agencies. Stay tuned!

Image credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gSxWCdXAsOo/T4coY8Y-_EI/AAAAAAAABHs/x6EiNUzb4VY/s1600/ST-TNG-10.jpg

3 Hints to Improve Your Conversion with Eye-Tracking Data: EyeQuant’s SmartInsights Guest Blog

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EyeQuant recently had the pleasure of contributing a guest post to the Smart Insights blog. Thanks to Dave Chaffey and to the Smart Insights team for chance to collaborate!

For this guest blog, we focussed on 3 helpful optimization strategies garnered from eye-tracking data.

Here’s what they are in a nut-shell:

  • Hint 1: Shine a spotlight – Luminance Contrast

Luminance Contrast refers to the brightness of an object in relation to its surroundings. We often think of the color red, for example, as attention-grabbing due to its emotional connotations of urgency and importance; however, red will only stand out if it has a high luminance contrast in relation to its surroundings.

  • Hint 2: Room to breath – size and space

The larger an object is, the more noticeable it typically becomes. A truck driving down a country road is far more visible than the woman riding her bicycle in front of it. All the same, making one element on a landing page too big will actually counteract the attention it might otherwise receive. It may seem like a good idea to put your company’s description in 300 point font, but the result will be akin to a background image – users will simply ignore it as decorative.

Why? An augmentation in the size of an object, whether it be text or image-based, means a decrease in the space around it, and space is a valuable commodity in landing page design. This is especially important to remember when placing a Call to Action button: This is your grand finale, and it needs some room to shine.

  • Hint 3: Location, location, location

Just like in real-estate, a landing page contains high and low-value locations. On English-language web pages, for example, the upper left corner of the page is coveted because this is where most users are trained to start reading. The same is the case for the mid-right of the page, which is a location our eyes tend to pause at, and a natural place for a Call-to-Action to appear.

At the same time, areas such as the top right corner or bottom left corner of a page tend to be reserved for less important information, because they draw far less immediate attention. Oh yes, and anything below the fold should be thought of as all the way out of town – this is the last area of a landing page a user will explore in the first 3 seconds.