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Visual Attention in Newspaper versus TV-Oriented News Websites

William J. Gibbs and Ronan S. Bernas

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 4, Issue 4, Aug 2009, pp. 147-165


Eye-tracking has been employed in usability engineering for many years because, among other things, it affords usability practitioners information about where users focus their attention. It helps practitioners identify the extent to which the visual display elements presented on many interactive products enhance or detract from the user experience. Eye movement data offer system developers and usability engineers information about visual attention, visual search efficiency, and visual information processing while users interact with a system.

In this study, we tracked participantsí eye movements as they viewed newspaper and TV-oriented news Websites. We used several visual attention measures (number of fixations, fixation duration, gaze time, and saccade rate) and scan path analysis to investigate whether ocular behavior differed by type of news site.

We found that newspaper and TV-oriented site types did not influence measures of visual attention. However, the areas where participants fixated differed by site type. In addition, there was greater across-user variability in the viewing of newspaper homepages compared to TV homepages. Finally, we report on the utility of examining visual attention using scan path analysis and string-editing methods. These methods were especially useful for identifying fixation areas as well as variability in participantsí scan paths.

Practitionerís Take Away

The following were the main findings of the study:

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Visual Attention in Newspaper versus TV-Oriented News Websites