Run a visual engagement study

1. Define the type of engagement you wish to track. For example, are you interested in overall page engagement or engagement with specific screen elements?

To decide on the best approach for your engagement study, you must first decide what kind of engagement you want to track. Are there specific elements on the page you want to ensure users have seen, or are you seeking to build a picture of how users are engaging with your page?

2. Decide on the most appropriate study for your budget and type of engagement.

If you are looking for general insights into on-page behavior, consider session recorders and heatmaps. If you are looking for insights into whether users have seen specific page elements, consider eye-tracking. If budgets are limited and you need insights into what users remember of a page, try a 5-second test.

3. Carry out a 5-second test to learn what users recall about a specific page.

In a 5-second test, users are shown the design for 5-seconds before it is removed. They are then asked to list the screen elements they remember. If the users remember critical messaging and calls to action, you can be confident the design is sufficiently memorable and engaging. If you wish to run a 5-second test online, you can do so for free using a tool called Usability Hub.

4. Use webcam eye-tracking software to carry out more comprehensive engagement studies.

Consider running an eye-tracking study for a more in-depth analysis of where people are looking on a page. Once this was time-consuming, expensive, and required special equipment, it is now possible to run eye-tracking with nothing more than a webcam. Real Eye offers a 7-day free trial of their software, and you can create a study in minutes.

5. Use eye-tracking simulation software to carry out quick checks of a design's likely engagement.

For quick testing during the creation of a design, consider using eye-tracking simulation software like Attention Insights. Using thousands of hours of real eye-tracking studies, Attention Insights has created an algorithm that predicts people’s attention when looking at a page with a 94% accuracy. The advantage of this approach over webcam eye-tracking is that you can get results in under a minute, and it is considerably cheaper.

6. Use session recordings and heatmaps for more general insights into overall page engagement.

For more general insights into where attention is going on a page, consider using a tool like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity. Both tools will create heatmaps of people’s behavior on your site, including how far they scroll and what they click on. In addition, you can watch back individual sessions to see where people are focusing on a page.