Eye tracking research shows visitors look at faces before anything else on a web page. Why is that ?
People are Drawn to Faces
Professor Catherine Mondloch, of the Face Perception Lab, showed in 1999 how newborns less than hour old, prefer looking at something with facial features.
Required to pick up on emotions or threats, part of our brain (FFA) is dedicated to recognising faces.
In Sabiner Ider of usabilla.com article she writes, “When we see a face, we are automatically triggered to feel something or to empathise with that person. If we recognise content on a website — such as a problem, dilemma, habit or whatever else — we feel connected and understood.”
Use Images of People with Purpose
Above all, an image needs to have a purpose. Purely decorative images have no value. Referred to in Usability as a ‘hot potato‘ visitors will ignore it. If an image doesn’t provide information or reinforce an article’s overall message, get rid of it!
In 2017, eye tracking research by Neilson Norman Group was carried out. It found, especially if the first image had limited information, visitors tended to skip the remaining images. One content-related image per article may suffice. Be brave. Use white space to grab attention.
Watch Out for Overburdening
Ensure images don’t have too much information and visitors switch off. Use infographics etc to summarise concisely what’s in the text, not add to the confusion.
You’re a Phoney!
Meet our receptionist. Hang on… Didn’t I see her on 10 other sites today? She must be exhausted.
Subconsciously, clichéd photos that look staged, alienate visitors and harm how a business is perceived. No-one’s ever lent over someone’s shoulder and pointed at a screen in real life. And watch out for those fake smiles…
French Doctor Guillaume Duchenne, published a series of controversial photographs, in 1862.
With psychiatric patients, he used electrical currents, to stimulate various facial muscles. He showed people read emotions, not only by looking at the mouth, but the eyes too.
You Can Hide Your Lying Eyes
Up until very recently, it was thought impossible to fake a smile. This was because it was believed most people couldn’t consciously make their eyes ‘crinkle’.
In 2009, Eva Krumhuber and Antony Manstead, decided to test this theory. The research disproves myths about eyes being the windows to the soul. In their study, 83% could convincingly produce what others perceived as genuine smiles.
Content-related portrait photography can help engage and build trust. Just check if the smiles look genuine. Cover the mouth. Are the eyes smiling ?