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Visual circuits on web pages: interactions between eye and hand/mouse movements

February 4th, 2002
Different interactions between eye and hand/mouse movements has been shown in a recent study, by Mr Guy Barrier, a research scientist at the CNRS (the French National Scientific Research Center),"Eye-path and modalities of attention across Web pages: an eye-tracking application."

In this study Barrier sums up the interactions that are likely to exist between the different areas on a page:

- Degree of openness versus closure of an area.
- Homogeneity versus chromatic contrast.
- Homogeneity versus contrast of intensity.
- Even versus uneven textures.
- Clearness of boundaries versus instability, dissolution or discontinuity.
- Proximity versus contiguity of visual blocks.

Any of these interactions may lead a user to construct different visual circuits to the ones originally defined by the homepage or any web page of a site.

Moreover, visual elements are not the only factors that should be taken into account when a web page is being constructed.

Interactions between eye and hand/mouse movements are also very important.

Barrier has also studied this point, and has defined some of the relations are likely to exist between the user's eye and hand/mouse movements.

Two kinds of behavior patterns, in particular, are representative of users' attitudes when they are looking at a page:

1 ) Mouse cursor stable (or not moving much) + regular, slow eye movements:


This is behavior pattern that occurs fairly frequently when homepages are being read, and shows that the user's attention is controlled and focused.

2 ) Cursor moving a lot + rapid, random eye movements:

This indicates that the user's attention is unfocused, and that he is likely to be scanning the page in all directions, showing that he is hesitating, trying to leave the page, waiting impatiently for a download, etc.

The analysis of Internet surfing behavior is a relatively young and complex subject that continues to progress as technologies evolve and user's online behavior matures.

This is what motivated us to determine what the standard conventions used on the homepages of the sites in our "homepages that sell" study are.

Although adhering to these standards will not solve all your problems or enable you to foresee all the reactions of users to your homepage, it will nonetheless enable you to provide them with an environment that they recognize and feel at home in.

This can be compared with, say, the interior design of a car.

A certain number of standard features, such as the position of the gear stick, ignition, brake, and so on, are found in all cars, no matter what make or model they are. The result is that, when a driver gets into an unfamiliar car, it only takes him a few minutes to get used to it and feel at ease driving it.

Using the standard conventions found on the Web today will, in our opinion, give your homepage a much better chance of succeeding.



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