Great Website Design Isn't Pretty. It's Effective.
What’s nice about eye-track testing is that it shows precisely what grabs your viewers’ attention, what they see, in what order, and how long they linger at each point.
That’s incredibly powerful data.
In important cases, trial lawyers don’t guess what’s going to work with the jury, they find out -- they conduct jury research. Then they use that data to improve their results. Of course, that’s not to minimize the significant value of decades of hands-on experience. But when you can get accurate data, use it.
Market research is expensive; it’s not possible in many situations. But when it’s cost-effective, it can take something great and make it even better.
Some years ago we represented an outstanding 250-lawyer US firm that had opened a new London office, bringing in some renowned UK-based lawyers to join their global Aviation Finance practice.
We'd developed five initial branding designs, and the client narrowed the designs to their two favorites, below. One design was visually bold, showing three stereotypic British hats. The other juxtaposed two architectural icons from the US and UK, e.g. the London Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, or the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben/Parliament, with a plane flying east. The ideas were very different.
We created three versions of each design, below:
We next turned each design into a website home page:
The Hats design has a powerful central photo, and the branding campaign is designed to be slightly humorous. The Icons platform also has a strong conceptually theme, but is more focused on the content.
In our experience, both would work great, achieving the firm’s goals. But which one accomplish those goals more effectively? Testing can help you find out. Here's how:
In the highly visual one on the left, the vibrant Beefeater hat is what you see first (see "Fixation Order" graphic), which holds viewers' attention for an average of 5.5 seconds (see "Average Time Spent..."), before they get to the headline, which they read for 1.5 seconds. In the version on the right, they go straight to the critical headline.
What's also important is that although 100% of the viewers saw the big black hat, only 81% noticed the headline below it (see "Percentage Seen..." below).
That indicates that if we selected the "Hats" version we should probably enlarge the headline, (which would likely cause our designers to complain just a bit about hurting their aesthetic. Well... tough.) Contrast that with the overwhelming 96% who read the headline in the "Icons" design on the right.
In both layouts the firm name is the third place viewers' eyes go. Excellent.
In the "Icons" design, the important content headline is the fourth visual point, and viewers spent 2.5 seconds reading it, then spent 4 seconds scanning the supporting News paragraph. That’s good.
In the "Hats" layout, the actual information we want them to remember is not noticed until the SEVENTH Fixation Point. This layout takes a bit too long to get to the real information, and we risk losing the viewers before they learn what we want them to know.
Finally, in the Visual Attention Level below, we can see a much heavier concentration of views (the yellow and red colors) in the parts of the text we want viewers to be focusing on, that is (1) the headline and subhead that tell our story, (2) the text that supports it, and (3) the link to the Attorneys' biographies.
When the viewers did get to that paragraph on the "Hats" design (left), they only spent a scant 2.5 seconds reading it. Contrast that to the "Icons" layout (right), where they stayed for 4 seconds -- spending substantially more time reading that same paragraph. So, with this data, which one would you use?
What’s the point?
Great web design doesn’t just make something attractive. It makes it effective.
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