Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Eye-Tracking Study Shows Users Perceive Google+ and Facebook Virtually Identically

Google+ was quite obviously designed as a competitor to Facebook, sharing much in common with the leading social network, plus a sprinkling of some innovative ideas of its own.

But if you look at how users perceive the homepage layouts of the two sites, they actually seem virtually identical. Users’ eyes head straight for the big status column in the middle of the screen, then over to the list of categories on the left side, then hop across to alerts on the right.

That’s according to an eye-tracking study conducted last week by EyeTrackShop, which offers an eye-tracking tool that participants use with their own computers’ Webcams.

I can try to describe it, but what really got me were the aggregate order charts — for visual attention patterns and visual fixation — that EyeTrackShop put together, shown here:

A representative for EyeTrackShop said 54 people participated in the study, most of them under the age of 34.

EyeTrackShop was actually looking to establish whether ads on Google+ have more or less potential than ads on Facebook, though that seems a bit premature, given that Google+ has no ads whatsoever yet. The study found that 50 percent of participants fixated — for one second, at approximately five seconds into their session — on at least one of the ads shown on Facebook. When the same ads were overlaid on Google+, panelists responded similarly.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus