Customer Experience Tracking: How to do Google-like usability testing at 1/1000th the cost

April 6, 2009

Google’s recent blog post describes how they use eye-tracking to improve the usability of the Google search results page, and showed that customer experience tracking using eye-tracking is a valuable technique for website optimization. The post received a lot of media attention, including mentions in leading blogs like TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb, all indications that eye-tracking techniques are of high value and of general interest.

Unfortunately, eye-tracking studies are prohibitively expensive, preventing most small and medium sized businesses from conducting their own studies and enjoying the benefits of this research method. Which is why the results of a Carnegie Mellon study titled “What can a mouse cursor tell us? Correlation of eye/mouse movements on web browsing” are so interesting and important.

The study showed that 84% of the times that a region was visited by a mouse cursor, it was also visited by (users’) eye gaze. In addition, 88% of regions that were not gazed by the eye were also not visited by a mouse cursor.

“I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I read the Carnegie Mellon study. After looking at hundreds of visitor sessions, I have no doubt that mouse cursor movements and eye gazes are highly correlated” says Tal Schwartz, Co-Founder and CEO of ClickTale.

The study found a very strong correlation between eye-gaze position and mouse cursor position; so strong in fact, that the study (by the Human-Computing Interaction Institute and the Psychology Department) concludes:

“By predicting the users’ interests on web pages, mouse device could be a very good alternative to an eye-tracker as a tool for usability evaluation. By predicting the gaze position, we might be able to infer user’s intent based on the mouse data, and use this to evaluate interface design.”

ClickTale comes to the rescue (once again)

ClickTale lets you conduct usability testing, that work almost exactly like the expensive customer experience tracking studies, at a tiny fraction of the cost.

How? It’s simple, just use ClickTale to record your users’ mouse movements, and discover where they are gazing and how they are interacting with your site.

The Carnegie Mellon study showed that web surfers move their mouse cursors to regions they are looking at. The study showed that 84% of the times that a region was visited by a mouse cursor, it was also visited by (users’) eye gaze. In addition, 88% of regions that were not gazed by the eye were also not visited by a mouse cursor.

Carnegie Mellon has succeeded in validating what many web professionals have known for a while – a strong correlation exists between where a user looks and where they hover their mouse. We hear it from our own customers, and witness it in our customer experience tracking on our own web pages: Watching the mouse works.

In fact, in a recent interview, John Marshall, CTO & Founder at, had this to say about ClickTale:

“You actually get to see a movie of what people do on the website, where the mouse goes, where they scroll, where they linger. It’s amazing that people often use the mouse as an indicator to help them read text. You can even see, in many cases what people are reading. It’s fascinating. We really learn a lot (through watching these videos).”

Be Google-like, only smarter

So why not be like Google, but for a fraction of their budget, and use ClickTale to conduct advanced, yet super-cheap, usability studies of your website.

We would love to hear about your success using ClickTale to run usability testing. Let us know here!

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One Comment

  1. Joe Says:
    July 19th, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I think Web 2.0 stupidity will alter the results somewhat. When dropdown menus for example obscure content, all the sudden that content is not visible and sometimes not accessible at all. Seriously…Web pages are the only “programs” where the norm is to pop menus and otherwise alter content simply by moving the mouse (and not clicking on anything). Asymptotic to 100% of other programs wait for one to click on a menu before showing its contents.

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