Can I have your attention please? Week 2 review.

This week I was looking at the subject of attention when reading websites.  I knew that people tend to do business with others who they know, like and trust but did you know that the chemical Oxytocin plays a part in this.  Baumgartner carried out an interesting study, which tested this by exploring the links between people’s trust and the application of the chemical oxytocin which looked at how much risks people were likely to take.   The participants were then given small amounts of money and were in two groups of people who either had the oxytocin application or a placebo. 

The delegates were then split into another two groups one group where they were told that their investments were not paying off.  The way they approved things was then explored. There were two different types of breach, trust or gambling.  The results only showed up clearly when the trust game was played rather than the risk game.  Overall people with higher levels of Oxytocin are more likely to forgive and forget.  I think that this means that the more that a person loves a product the more they are still likely to love the product or service even if there is a setback

An important aspect of business is first impressions and in this case the responses to viewing a website can happen as quickly as 0.5 seconds according to Google.  It also follows that a website must remain straightforward with a few levels of headlines and not too many visuals competing for attention.

For simplicity I love the Neal’s Yard Remedies website.  I love that the main two colours for the site are white and navy blue and the products are clearly set out with description, price and review.  It also contains the compelling visuals and graphics required for a website with medium sized products which can then be clicked on for a larger version of the graphic with more detailed information.

Another aspect of a website that elicits trust is appealing to people who are similar to ourselves. Although Neals Yard Remedies does not feature people it includes badges which shows its credibility for sustainability, cruelty free products and chemical free products.  It is also a rather luxury brand which reflects in its pricing. 

Whether we buy from a website is very much dependent on internal and external factors.  The internal factors are very subjective and could be as simple as remembering the smell of frankincense on a holiday and wanting to buy that product even more, whereas an external factor are things that are objective such as the font, sounds and images on a website.

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

As well as the type of information on a website or in an advertisement, writers have to be careful to not to overload the reader with information.  This is known as cognitive overload and there are several ways to avoid this from happening.  For example, websites that are overrun with banner ads and items with clickbait titles, which cause distraction due to the competing elements on the page.

Cognitive load theory was first described in 1988 by John Sweller, an educational psychologist,  who claimed that the higher the level of cognitive overload the harder it is to focus on, rehearse and remember different elements of information.  This was tested in particular with regard to banner ads  on clarity especially on website homepages.  The test that the CXL Institute used for their study was the homepage for Colonial Candle as it considered to not be immediately clear what the website is offering in terms of product.  The results of tests on the sample of 1,200 people showed that 66% of participants were clear about what the website was offering.

Visual cues are also extremely helpful as was shown in an visual cue eye tracking research was carried out on the Lemon Law Group, which found that when users were given 15 minutes to review a website they were most likely to contact the firm if the pointer from the information to the form was triangular or if the form was prominent on the page with little other information. 

Similar to this are eye gaze pattern tests, which show where users eye gaze is likely to fall on the site.  This is different if the task is difficult.   This comes back to Fitts Law which shows that the focus is dependent on the size of the visual that the user is focusing on and the distance of the user from the screen.

The CXL Institute carried out a study showing the pattern of reading a website.  Growth Marketer and Consultant, Sophia Eng explained that the most common reading patterns are in the sign of an F, a layer cake or a spotted pattern.  This is dependent on the information that the user wants to read.  A way of drawing the user to the most important information is by using bolded words, numbers long words and words in quotation marks along other items.

Another study was carried out by Nielson Norman Group’s 2008 study, which showed that internet users read just 28% of an article during an average website visit.  Most people will skim an article for the information that they want to find out.  A more in-depth study looked at the difference between one group of 18-30-year olds and another group of 50-60-year olds and found that the reading behaviours were quite similar.  I had a feeling that this was the case, especially as I tend to scan articles on the web for the information that I want as well.

The researchers created areas of interest (AOIs) on the article page and found that both groups were most likely to read the first part of the article and then a featured image.  The younger readers tended to read 62.9% of the article and the older readers read 54.5% of the article. The researchers took into account the possibility that some participants adapted their behaviours because they knew that they were being watched.  There was also the possibility that users didn’t have enough time to read the entire article because the testing platform only allowed a maximum of 30 seconds for a picture to be shown.

A more precise example was shown from a 2004 eye tracking study of the New York Times, which was then replicated in 2016.  The CXL Institute looked at an eye tracking tool which showed that the main focus was held in the top left-hand corner.  Out of the group of 200 participants only 132 had accurate enough information that could be used.  This study showed that the large banner ads were distracting.  However, the priority ads did not vary much.

Next week I’ll be exploring decision making and emotions.

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