Eye Tracking Used By Researchers to Find the Way Mobile Apps Gain Our Attention

  • Analysis
  • 19-October-2020

A study conducted by researchers from Aalto University revealed that the standard notion regarding what captivates visual attention to phone screens is not applicable in the case of mobile applications. Apparently, this is the first research study to test how our eyes follow frequently used mobile app features, despite the extensive use of tablets and mobile phones in our day to day lives. All past works on what captivates visual saliency, or visual attention has centred on web-interfaces and desktop.

In comparison to a desktop browser or computer, apps seem different when observed on a phone screen. Due to the small size screen of the mobile apps, very few elements perfectly fit to it. Moreover, mobile apps tend to go for a vertical layout instead of a horizontal one. Until the study was conducted, it was very unclear how the above elements affect the way mobile apps captivate our eyes, as stated by Professor Antti Oulasvirta of Aalto University.

Different Findings of the Study

Several typical eye-tracking and mobile interfaces were used by the research team, for the study, to understand how users observe screenshots of mobile applications, for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

Previously it was assumed that our eyes tend to stick longer to brighter and bigger elements. It was also deduced that while looking at certain types of pictures, our eyes tends to get attracted towards the centre of the screen and gradually focuses horizontally instead of vertically. But ironically, these factors were found to hold much less importance in the case of mobile interfaces, as stated by the researchers.

In the case of mobile apps, bright colours don’t tend to attract much attention, unlike conventional opinion. The mobile interface is full of colourful and glossy elements and, as a result, anything present on the screen could possibly catch your attention. The elements are designed in such a manner that everything carries the equal potential to grab the user’s attention. Various design principles also hold true for apps, as confirmed by the study.

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