How much do we really know about how people read news websites? We can track their behavior clicking through a site visit. We can collect personal information. We can ask them questions. But that presents a small part of the full picture. To get the rest, we need to climb inside their heads and look through their eyes as they view online news sites — to peer into their minds and see patterns that even they don’t consciously see.
That, remarkably, is what we’ve done. The Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism and New Media, and Eyetools Inc. in late 2003 took 50 Internet users and looked through their eyes — utilizing sophisticated and non-intrusive “eyetracking” equipment — as they each spent an hour reading news websites and multimedia news content. We used the Eyetools Analysis Solution Suite to capture and process the data and looked to the company’s experts to help us compile the initial findings. What we learned will be the subject of this website.
With the testing phase complete, at this writing we are finishing up the analysis of many megabytes of data. We expect to release the results in August.