Institute for Web Science and Technologies · Universität Koblenz - Landau
Institute WeST

Improving Usability and Accessibility of the Web with Eye Tracking

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Raphael Menges

The Web is an essential component of moving our society to the digital age. We use it for communication, shopping, and doing our work. Most user interaction in the Web happens with Web page interfaces. Thus, the usability and accessibility of Web page interfaces are relevant areas of research to make the Web more useful. Eye tracking is a tool that can be helpful in both areas, performing usability testing and improving accessibility. It can be used to understand the users’ attention on Web pages and to support usability experts in their decision-making process. Moreover, eye tracking can be used as an input method to control an interface. This is especially useful for people with motor impairment, who cannot use traditional input devices like mouse and keyboard. However, interfaces on Web pages become more and more complex due to dynamics, i.e., changing contents like menus and carousels. We need general approaches to comprehend for dynamics on Web pages, allowing for efficient usability analysis and enjoyable interaction with eye tracking. In the first part of this thesis, we report our work on improving the gaze-based analysis of dynamic Web pages. Eye tracking can be used to collect the gaze signals of users, who browse a Web site and its pages. The gaze signals show a usability expert what parts in the Web page interface have been read, glanced, or skipped. The aggregation of gaze signals allows a usability expert insight into the users’ attention on a high-level, before looking into individual behavior. For this, all gaze signals must be aligned to the interface as experienced by the users. However, the user experience is heavily influenced by changing contents, as these may cover a substantial portion of the screen. We delineate unique states in Web page interfaces including changing contents, such that gaze signals from multiple users can be aggregated correctly. In the second part of this thesis, we report our work on improving the gaze-based interaction with dynamic Web pages. Eye tracking can be used to retrieve gaze signals while a user operates a computer. The gaze signals may be interpreted as input controlling an interface. Nowadays, eye tracking as an input method is mostly used to emulate mouse and keyboard functionality, hindering an enjoyable user experience. There exist a few Web browser prototypes that directly interpret gaze signals for control, but they do not work on dynamic Web pages. We have developed a method to extract interaction elements like hyperlinks and text inputs efficiently on Web pages, including changing contents. We adapt the interaction with those elements for eye tracking as the input method, such that a user can conveniently browse the Web hands-free. Both parts of this thesis conclude with user-centered evaluations of our methods, assessing the improvements in the user experience for usability experts and people with motor impairment, respectively.

16.02.21 - 10:15
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