Monthly Archives

July 2010

Eye tracking basics. Guest blogger: Alexandra Franzen

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What do your customers really see when they read your website pages? Read on for illumination from Alexandra, our guest blogger extraordinaire who has an eye for interesting and pertinent information.

When a customer visits your company’s website, what do they really see?

The truth? A big fat “F.”

Don’t take it personally — it’s not a report card. The human eye literally scans in the shape of the letter “F” — picking up hot zones in the header region, jumping down to the sub-header line, and then skimming straight down the page.

eye_tracking3

 

Sophisticated eye tracking tests performed by the Nielsen Norman Group, the Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism and New Media and Eyetools provide new insights (no pun intended) into how we interpret webpages.

In addition to unveiling the distinctive F-shape pattern, eye tracking experts have highlighted a few additional techniques for effective web copywriting.

The Whisper Effect.
Ever notice how college professors speak softly to command their students’ attention? Sometimes, small text equals closer reading. As Steve Outing and Laura Ruel of the Eyetrack III project explain, “Smaller type encourages focused viewing behavior (that is, reading the words), while larger type promotes lighter scanning.”

Short & Sweet.
Copywriters instinctively know that short, concise paragraphs work better — both online and offline. Long blocks of dense text often get ignored, because they feel too daunting. As Dean Rieck of Direct Creative notes, “Big blocks of type look imposing and difficult, like reading a Faulkner novel.”

Words for Facts. Images for Stories.
Factual information — like names, numbers and locations — are best expressed through words. But high-concept processes, systems and stories are better conveyed through multi-media methods: graphs, images, illustrations and videos.

1-800-Got-Junk does an excellent job of illustrating their business model in this animated movie, while Rice to Riches — a luxury rice pudding restaurant in New York City — has a fantastic “brand storytelling” intro video on their website.

For more eye scanning insights, check out Eye Tracking, Inc. — a company that measures website usability, and Eye Tracking Update, an aggregate site that pools together the latest findings in the field.

Alexandra Franzen is a writer + editor + organization freak who freelances for d.trio marketing as a copywriter. You can find her blogging at Unicorns for Socialism and tweeting up a storm at @Alex_Franzen.

F-pattern eye scan images via Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox

Get your messages chosen.

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There’s too much stuff in my head today. It’s as cluttered as my desk and email inbox. I’m not alone, but that’s little consolation to a marketer whose job it is to cut through the clutter. Yet, I got an email from a blogger I follow, Joe Grant, http://jjgrant.wordpress.com/ and it made me sit up and take notice. Why? Because there’s always something in his blog for me.

As marketers we have to accept and address a general lack of focus and propensity to distraction or we should just give up and go golfing. And, by the way, how and why are people able to concentrate on a golf game for more than 4 hours and yet can’t get to the 1-minute (or less) task of reading our marketing messages?

Interest and relevance.

It all boils down to that, interest and relevance. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself (or better yet ask them):

  • What do customers want and need to know that you can provide them?
  • What are the different ways that they access information and what is their preference in receiving it?

We all have to live with the distractions of day and moment, but if your messages and content are more compelling and more relevant than the next guy’s, your customers will take notice and choose to open yours over your competition.

This isn’t about shouting, it’s about whispering – getting customers to lean in to hear more. It’s about presenting thoughtful interesting information, in an easy to read format and making it look good. Leave them wanting more, looking forward to your next communiqué. And give them options (email, snail mail, blog, social, mobile etc.) that they can choose between to receive your communications. It’s about giving your customers choices while meeting their needs. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and go for a stroll. Take some time to think about what you can provide that is relevant, interesting and/or fun. Then next time your customers will sit up and take notice of what you have to say.

We’d love to hear what your experience has been with your cutting through the clutter, here or at http://www.facebook.com/dtrio – tell us what you think.