Eye Gaze Data and the Correlation With Mouse Movement June 2, 2010Posted by Jon Ward in Advertising, eye tracking, Market Research, Marketing, Media, Studio, Technology, Tips And Tricks, Tobii, Usability & UX.
At Eyetrack UX today in Leuven, Blegium I was fortunate to hear a talk from Dr Anne Aula who is a Senior User Experience Researcher at Google Inc, over in the US. As part of her presentation about how and why Google uses eye tracking she presented some interesting statistics about the percentage of correlation between the eye gaze data and mouse movement during a SERP test they recently did. Out of their user group who were performing a task on their search page (Google – OBVIOUSLY!) 42% of participants didn’t have any active mouse movement during the course of the task, that leaves 58% of the people that did move their mouse around as they were doing things…. but she didn’t stop there. Recently there has been blogs and tweets and more about how much mouse and eye data ‘can be assumed to be the same’ and we have been defending the point that we have (and our clients have…) thousands of hours of test data to prove that the claimed 60-80% (depending on who you listen to) correlation between mouse and eye data – is wrong!
Anne went on to say that out of the remaining 58% of our group, only 10% (which is in fact 6% of the bigger group!) displayed matched data between horizontal mouse movement and eye gaze data. For vertical movement it is a little higher at 32% – therefore 19% of the overall sample size. The final statistic is interesting, 16% of the mouse movers (about 10% overall) found a link or item that they found interesting and ‘marked’ it by hovering their mouse over it as they continued to gaze the page.
So what does all this say? Mouse movement and eye movement bear very little relation to each other, until we make a decision (or pseudo-decision) and select and therefore click through to another page or similar. It also says that if you do get your mouse movement heatmaps, just pause for thought and think well if nobody is moving their mouse, or if they are hovering over a certain area – does that explain the random hot spot in the middle of nowhere….. I think it probably will.
Eye tracking is not the Holy Grail of all things usability, web based and screen based – however it is a hugely powerful tool, and as with any professional the more tools you have, the better you can produce results to the best of your ability. As the Studio software records your mouse movement, mouse clicks and every key press alongside your eye gaze data then you have a great piece of software for your toolkit!