A better way to do UI / UX research

We know from our years of experience that what people say and what they do on the web is often different.

Traditional UI/UX testing involves asking consumers for their feedback on site elements. However, site navigation and browsing involve non-conscious behaviors which consumers cannot articulate consciously. Thus, asking questions such as “which button do you like more” without observing the behavior beforehand can be misleading.

At the C3Research WebLab, we use Eye Tracking to observe and record natural surfing behavior. All UI and UX questioning and probing needs and motivations happen after the browsing session is completed. The follow-up interview uses the actual eye-tracking recording of the session to guide the interview.

Participants matching the target consumer segments are brought to the Eye Tracker lab for 1.5 to 2 hour-long individual sessions. During the sessions, participants go through different tasks designed to explore the features & functionality of the asset. They are given time to browse the asset normally while the session is recorded using an eye tracker. The browsing session is followed by a survey, and then a detailed debrief session is conducted with the moderator and the participant watching the replay of the recorded eye-tracking session.

Pre-Lab Screening ensures that participants fit the consumer segments we are looking for in this study. Participants are first allowed to freely browse the website or the asset being tested in the Lab while the session is recorded using an eye tracker.

The free browsing session is followed by a directed browsing session where the moderator hands over instructions for a set of tasks to be carried out by the participant. After explaining the instructions, the moderator usually leaves the room so that the participant can work through the instructions at their own pace and complete the tasks with no interference from the moderator. If the participant gets stuck on some tasks, the moderator may enter the room and ask the participant to proceed to the next task. In some cases where several tasks are to be completed, the moderator may sit in the lab with the participant to issue instructions step by step, but the moderator consciously avoids looking over at the participant's screen and tries to minimize any interference beyond giving instructions.

After the directed browsing, the participant is given another chance to browse the sections of the asset in-depth. A brief online survey is administered to respondents to get feedback on UI/UX experience content and measure persuasion. After the survey, the moderator plays the recording of the eye-tracking session and does a frame-by-frame interview of the entire session, focusing on areas where the participant had difficulties or where a deeper probe is needed. Finally, the moderator probes overall themes about navigation, content, and experience.

This process ensures that we capture the participant's responses to the user interface and experience grounded in their actual behavior as seen in the eye track replay. The insights come unfiltered with no undue memory biases or interference by the moderator conducting the session. We feel this is a better way to test a user interface and assess the user experience.

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