Did you know that your eyes are helping Google determine what their search results page should look like?
Google’s User Experience Research Team has unveiled some new technology that tracked test participants’ eyeballs as they scanned search results for the right link.
Below is a thermal image of the Google search results page showing the most widely viewed areas. The results suggest that people spend a lot more time evaluating the search results at the top of the page than the ones further down.
To me this makes sense, as most people would automatically look at the first option assuming it is the right option.
The inclusion of Google’s Universal Search in this study was a worry for the research team. Google’s Anna Aula and Kerry Rodden explain more:
We were concerned that the thumbnail images might be distracting and disrupt the well-established order of result evaluation.
We ran a series of eye-tracking studies where we compared how users scan the search results pages with and without thumbnail images. Our studies showed that the thumbnails did not strongly affect the order of scanning the results and seemed to make it easier for the participants to find the result they wanted.
The thumbnail image seemed to make results with thumbnails easy to notice when the users wanted them and the thumbnails also seemed to make it easy for people to skip over the results with thumbnails when those results were not relevant to their search.
The study isn’t ground-breaking but it does provide an interesting insight into how Google tests its search results pages and how we interact with them. So if you would like to learn more, then click here for Google’s official blogpost.