When It Comes to your Practice Website, the Eyes Have It

eye tracking website design

No, that’s not a typo. According to a recent eye-tracking study conducted at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, visitors to a website take just two-tenths of a second to form a first impression. And, as the saying suggests, you seldom get a second chance if that impression isn’t very good.

As more people use the Internet to search for information, says Dr. Hong Sheng, who led the research, a user’s first impressions of a website can determine whether that user forms a favorable or unfavorable view of that organization.

While first impressions were almost instantaneous, it took users slightly longer (2.6 seconds) to focus on a particular section. As the following infographic shows, users spent 5.25 to 6.48 seconds on the sites’ major areas (e.g., logo, navigation menu, images, content, etc.) before moving on.

eye tracking website design

While the difference among the various sections is small, the cumulative effect is undeniable. Asking subjects to rate sites based on aesthetics, visual appeal and other design factors, Sheng and her team found that the longer subjects stayed on a page, the more favorable their impressions were.

And the more favorable their impressions, the more likely they are to make the move from your practice website to your clinic door.

Doctor Takeaways

1. Be informative but not overwhelming

Most people don’t actually read web pages; they scan them, looking for key concepts, relevant words and answers to the issue(s) they’re trying to resolve. Your website should facilitate that process with small chunks of content, headings that help readers navigate within pages and hyperlinks to other pages for readers who want more detailed information.

2. Be selective with your visuals

“Users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to ‘jazz up’ web pages,” says usability expert Jakob Nielsen. For consumers researching aesthetic procedures that suggests before and after images are viewed more favorably than stock beauty shots. The same is true for videos, where product demonstrations trump generic artsy imagery.

3. Let your analytics be your guide

Your webmaster/site host should provide you with regular updates on which pages visitors are viewing, how long they’re staying on them and which ones prompt them to leave your site and go elsewhere. While subject matter drives much behavior, design differences — images, color, readability, etc. — can all influence the results.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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