Mouse Tracking is better than Eye Tracking

Oct 17th, 2010No Comments

The good folks over at ClickTake have posted a great piece on how eye tracking compares to mouse tracking in terms of analyzing web page usability.

Mouse tracking differs from eye tracking in that a user’s mouse movements are recorded instead of their eye movements as they interact with a web page. The best way to think about mouse tracking is that it turns your web pages into a one way mirror through which you can literally watch how your users interact with the page.

When it comes to usability work, mouse tracking often times is far more effective than eye-tracking because:

  • It can be performed on live users of your site, instead of simulated in a lab.
  • It doesn’t require specialized/expensive labs, recruitment efforts, consultants, or equipment
  • If you use Open Web Analytics you can do it for FREE and get started immediately. No waiting.

Have you ever debated a design decision with a client or colleague only to wind up agreeing to disagree? Well, if you were recording mouse movements you’d be able to back up or disprove your hypothesis with real interaction data in minutes. Heck, you’d even be able to show live recordings as examples.

Here are some of the important usability questions that mouse/key-press tracking can answer:

  • Do users ever scroll the web page? If so, how far exactly?
  • Do users ever click on a particular element of the page?
  • How long do people spend interacting with the web page?
  • Do users use any keyboard short cuts to navigate the page?

General web analytics tools can’t answer these questions because they do not track what happens after a web page loads.

Open Web Analytics comes with built-in support for tracking a user’s entire “in-page” experience including mouse movements, scrolling, and key-presses. We call the entire stream of in-page events a “Domstream” and allow you to record them for all of your visitors or just a sample percentage that you define.

Watching Domstream recordings is like watching a reality TV show – once you start watching you can’t stop.

Because OWA is free open source software there is no limit on the number of Domstreams you can record. This means that if you have a large web site with lots of different page types you won’t bump up against the limits that commercial tools put in place or run out of budget as you record more streams or do A/B tests.

To see how OWA’s Domstreams work check out the OWA demo site and start tracking your user’s Domstreams. We just did ;)