Wearables are fun and cool, but aren’t always useful or usable
An exciting array of new smart wearable devices are available to consumers, but very few have proven to be useful enough to become a staple of our daily lives.
The wearables experience is very different from that of any other portable device. In the morning a smartwatch might vibrate to get your attention to look at it because you have a meeting in 10 minutes. The device might alert you that you have reached your target heart rate while exercising. The user might then swipe the screen a few times to change to a different song track.
Samsung Gear S2 used during a workout routine. Image courtesy of Samsung.
User experience teams have been able to collect lots of data about usage habits through diary studies and run usability tests to understand if users can use these devices. While informative, these methods are unable to capture the subtle, yet critical behavior of visual attentiveness.
Improving the user experience of wearables
Eye tracking can help researchers to better understand how users are viewing wearables and to identify usability issues that might not be detected by direct observation of participants in a usability test. At Key Lime Interactive, we have been working on new methods for analyzing eye tracking data that are most applicable for studying wearables.
Our goal is to establish benchmark metrics for a variety of wearable devices and apps so that we can help our clients understand how their products compare and to make suggestions for improving the user’s experience.
Visual attentiveness is key to understanding the UX of wearables
Visual attention is still the primary way for users to obtain information from and interact with wearable devices. Users stop, check the device display, interact easily and quickly, and then move on. They spend only seconds in an app at any given time, rather than minutes. By providing just the right information, at just the right time, users can get back to focusing on the real world more quickly.
A poorly designed app requires the user to spend significantly more time looking at the wearable device which then disrupts the user from their primary task and reduces the overall utility of wearing the device.
The user’s interest in engaging with the device can be measured by the frequency with which they look at it. A useful wearable device should be frequently glanced at for short amounts of time, providing bite-sized amounts of information, similar to quick glances at a regular analog watch.
Eyetracking provides product designers with non-intrusive behavioral data collection in order to predict and detect failures. Resulting Gaze patterns help identify Potential Environment Distraction in the medical or clinical environments as well as various cultural differences.
At the recent HFES Symposium in Chicago, attendees found this poster to be helpful by demonstrating the importance of the clinician’s experience with new technology. Following successful trends, Key Lime Interactive plans to use Eyetracking to further identify errors within all hardware developer scenarios.
by Nick Iuliucci
Our clients ask us some challenging research questions. As the global marketplace continues to mature one of the main questions asked is
Can we adjust the language on our current website to Spanish?
Will the site still have the same level of usability?
Challenge accepted! In an effort to better understand the impact of language and culture on multi-lingual businesses initiatives, we designed the first in a series of studies that use eye-tracking methodologies to measure the impact of the anthropological layer of subjective culture how it relates to web design elements, by deconstructing variations in gaze patterns.
We recruited 30 respondents (all from the US) and asked them to view two versions of the Best Buy site. One site in English and the other site in Spanish. Best Buy is a 1-to-1 site where language is the only difference in site design. The eye-tracking data showed that respondents who self-report as Hispanic and identify with the Spanish culture and language did demonstrate differences in gaze patterns versus those that identified with the English culture and language.
The chart below represents how cultural orientation manifests as a change in circular eye scanning on the English site.
This difference can be interpreted in two ways:
1) Respondents who are familiar with US cultural and language (English) are able to processes the information on the page rapidly allowing them time to shift around the page to items they prefer.
2) From a cognitive processing point of view, the US culture promotes a rapid short term attention approach instead of a deeper individual understanding of a site.
The second chart represents the eye scanning pattern difference on the Spanish site. Those with high U.S. cultural orientation scan the Spanish site but this time with a lack of the circular pattern. While our study is preliminary, it does support the idea that Spanish culturally-orientated individuals also show a shift in circular scan vs scan-only gaze patterns between the two sites.
Regardless of the complex anthropological or psychological foundations, the result represent directional data that seems to indicate that just translating the language of the site to match a new market, is not optimal if you are trying to maximize usability and maintain the desire experience for consumers.
While this difference requires further exploration, the impact on marketing approach and usability design are substantial. The Hispanic population in the US in 2013 was almost 53 million (17% of total), and will only continue to grow. To ignore that visual consumption of websites differs based on cultural background may alienate a growing customer base. Furthermore, all the respondents in this study currently live in the US, half in New York State and the rest in Florida. This is a clear demonstration that our cultural orientation identification method coupled with eye-tracking methodology provides a unique way to differentiate sub populations within a region.
Follow-up studies will further explore the potential of eye tracking tools to help us understand the cultural divergence between American and Hispanic-orientated individuals. If you would like a copy of the presentation, please contact us at email@example.com
Learn more about the growth of the Hispanic market:
US Census: Profile America Facts for Features “Hispanic Heritage Month” Huffington Post: Hispanic Population Facts: A Look At Latinos By The Numbers Pew Research Center: The U.S. Hispanic population has increased sixfold since 1970
Latino Populations Are Growing Fastest Where We Aren’t Looking