One of the buzz phrases of the Internet has always been “How many eyeballs can my website get?” Since the dawn of the mass Internet, countless companies have attempted to measure user behavior by counting, tracking and analyzing consumers’ visits to their websites.
Lately, it is no longer the number of eyeballs, but what the eyeballs are looking at on a website. Eye-tracking tools enable web testers to evaluate what areas of a website are seen most often by users — not just how many times a page is visited, but what area of the page is seen more frequently. Is the user looking at the links on the top, the picture on the left, or the article on the right? This type of user testing already exists internally in focus groups and marketing surveys through expensive eye-tracking software, and aids greatly with website design and content placement.
YouEye, a startup based in Arlington, Virginia, is developing a low-cost, out-of-the-box eye tracking alternative for companies and individuals who cannot otherwise afford this type of testing. Currently in beta, it utilizes standard webcam technology to track eye behavior, and also evaluates mouse behaviors and audio input.
Whether tracking user’s viewing behaviors is done through YouEye or one of the more sophisticated eye tracking solutions available on the market, this type of tracking provides a powerful and effective tool for making websites more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, by collecting and analyzing eye-tracking information from visually challenged users visiting a particular website, web developers and designers could implement best-in-class practices to make web pages more accessible. And by measuring the ease-of-use with with paraplegic Internet surfers navigate through a web page, it becomes a win-win situation for companies (especially those who market to paraplegics) and paraplegics themselves.
Website design is a critical part of what makes a website accessible to people with disabilities. With the staggering amount of websites out there on the Internet, it is difficult to ensure accessibility across the board for website visitors with disabilities. It’s where information on how people with disabilities — especially the blind, the developmentally disabled, and those with mobility conditions — navigate the websites that could prove valuable in developing a more accessible Internet. By assessing where and how users look at content on a website, eye-tracking software can be essential in assessing whether the content is useful and appropriately placed on a website. With more affordable eye-tracking software on the way, more web designers and developers can get involved in ensuring that the Internet is more accessible to people with disabilities.