"Reaction [beta]"

Five days: Currys.co.uk 9 May 2006

Welcome to day two

Over the next five days, we'll be publishing Eye Tracking heatmaps from five websites. We'll give you our thoughts on each and hopefully you'll give us your questions, comments and analysis. More information about the study can be found in our original announcement.

Day one saw us tackle Dixons homepage. Today, it's Currys...

About Currys

Currys is one of the UK's largest electrical retailers, specialising in home electronics and household appliances. The company was founded in 1884 by Henry Curry when he started to build bicycles full time in a shed at the back of his garden in Leicester. He opened his first shop in 1888 (also in Leicester) and in 1897 formed a partnership with his sons calling the company H. Curry & Sons. Currys was taken over by DSG International plc (owner of a number of UK retail chains, including Dixons, the subject of yesterday's study) in 1984 but has managed to maintain its separate brand identity. Their annual sales in 2003/04 were £1,752 million and £1,852 million in 2004/05.

We thought Currys.co.uk to be an interesting subject for our study as it is an almost exact replica of Dixons.co.uk. Both sites function identically - the only differences are their product selections and visual design treatments. This makes the sites ideal for comparison.

Website: http://www.currys.co.uk/

The heatmap

The white line represents the page fold at our 1024 x 768 monitor resolution. Users needed to scroll to view content located beneath.

See a full size version of this heatmap

Our findings

Compared to Dixons, Currys does a poor job of exposing users to the range of their homepage content. The strong draw of Currys left-hand navigation menu is immediately obvious in this heatmap image - almost all user interaction revolves around this set of links, to the detriment of almost all other page elements. Again, we see some evidence of "order effects" - with items located at the top of this menu attracting more attention that those located at the bottom.

The "SERVICES", "CUSTOMER CARE" and "EXTERNAL WEBSITES" menus, featuring below the left-hand navigation, were largely overlooked. This is likely because they appear a long way beneath the fold at 1024 x 768 monitor resolution. It's worth noting that the items in the "CUSTOMER CARE" menu were almost entirely overlooked. These items are similar in size and proportion to those found in Dixons right-hand column - items that were also largely ignored during our study (despite being located above the fold in this instance). As these dimensions are traditionally associated with sidebar banner advertising, could it be that users have learnt to filter these items out? This would support Benway and Lane's "Banner Blindness" theory.

Currys' search feature - and page header in general - was noticed far less than Dixons. It would seem that the absence of a horizontal main navigation menu dissuaded users from venturing further north. Perhaps the white-text-on-vivid-red-background colour scheme had a contributory effect (Dixon's header adopts a blue-text-on-white-background colour scheme).

The "get it now" banner - offering a Sanyo Digital Camcorder for £199.00 - performed relatively poorly, attracting the attention of less than 20% of users and no clicks whatsoever. The Dixons equivalent attracted far more interest, while presenting a far more expensive offer - a Philips Digital Plasma TV at £985. This finding may be attributable to the fact that a Plasma TV is a "sexier" product than a Digital Camcorder.

The "As advertised" section demonstrates users' tendency to overlook the "INFO" and "ADD TO BASKET" buttons, preferring to click on product images instead. You might remember that users had also failed to notice the similarly-presented "info" and "BUY" buttons in the "Our Top Deals all with Free Delivery" section of the Dixons site (again favouring product images). This finding suggests that these items don't immediately shout "click me" to users.

Perhaps most surprising of all is that two users clicked the links immediately below Currys' "INFO" and "ADD TO BASKET" buttons (i.e. "See all Laptops" and "See all Fridge Freezers"). A simple explanation for this behaviour would be that these users were plain interested in seeing all laptops and fridge freezers sold by Currys. Yet this wasn't the case. When these users followed these links they expressed confusion at not having arrived on a product details page, as they had expected. We see this behaviour regularly during user testing: users often seem to think that the last link or button on a page, or in a section, is the "action link" - the link that will take them forward.

Users rarely ventured below the "As advertised" section in the central column and none looked at content below the second item in the "Latest technology at low web prices" section.

The biggest success story of the Currys homepage seems to be the "today's TOP 10" feature that pokes its head just above the fold. This attracted the attention of more than 30% users, and caused them to scroll further down the page than they perhaps would have otherwise, in order to read all ten items. Some users even continued on to read the "Save 30%" advertisement, but the remainder of the right hand column was ignored.

Web usability and sales gurus always tell us that free shipping is extremely important to users. We're sure it is, so it's interesting to note that few users noticed this prominently-placed information on either the Currys or Dixons websites.

Over to you

So that's our take. Now, over to you. Do you agree with our findings, or disagree? Perhaps you've noticed something we've missed. We'd love to hear from you...

...and if you're interested in commissioning an Eye Tracking study of your own site, please don't hesitate to get in touch

Update: The results from all five days are now available.

Next article: Five days: Amazon.co.uk
Previous article: Five days: Dixons.co.uk

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