Visit Scotland

The Challenge

Visitor wandering through the Visitor CentreUser Vision have worked with Visit Scotland, Scotland’s National Tourism Organisation, since 2010, supporting them in designing the best possible customer experience on their web channel.

As Visit Scotland also have a significant physical presence across Scotland in the form of their Visitor Information Centres, User Vision collaborated with Visit Scotland to investigate the in-centre customer experience and how it could be improved to better serve the needs of the visitors.

The overall objective of this study was to better understand the needs of visitors and how effective the layout of the centre was in answering those needs. Eye tracking was employed to help answer the following questions:

  • How did visitors engage with the centre?
  • Which were the most widely viewed sections of the literature and merchandise shelving?
  • Was the signage in the centre effective in guiding visitors to the various areas?

What we did

The study made use of the eye tracking glasses. Because these glasses include a portable recording device, they can be used to track visitors’ journeys around the centre. For quicker analysis of data within the centre we made use of IR markers, attached to the walls behind the literature and merchandise shelving.

Fifteen visitors to the centre were approached as they entered the centre and recruited to take part in the study. The study was primarily focused on exploring the visitors’ intent in visiting the centre and how well the centre met these objectives.

The participants were asked to wear the eye tracking glasses during their visit and to complete the task they had planned to carry out.

A brief pre-test interview gathered basic demographic data about participants and the goals of their visit. Once they had spent time fulfilling their personal goals, they were asked to approach a specific leaflets rack and spend a short time looking around it. Finally, a post-session questionnaire reviewed satisfaction with the elements of the information centre.

Average time to first fixation for leaflets rackSince testing was based on visitors’ goals there was no time limit on how long participants could take to accomplish their visit goals. Overall, sessions lasted between 10 – 30 minutes.

Data gathered from eye tracking glasses was imported into Tobii Studio and analysed.

Fixation analysis was performed on the demarked shelving (both total time and time to first fixation). All shelf analysis was performed twice: firstly analysis was performed in the relation to the vertical organisation of the shelves and secondly in relation to the horizontal organisation.

The aim was to help pinpoint which areas would be most prominent for premium leaflet placement.

Manual coding analysis was also performed, focusing specifically on the amount of time participants spent looking at signage, advertising posters and retail shelves. The amount of and duration of these gazes were calculated in relation to total participants’ visit time.

The outcome

Several insightful findings were established in this study for Visit Scotland to act upon.

Signage was not noticed throughout the Visitor Centre

Heatmap of aggregated eye-gaze data for premium leaflets rackThe eye tracking data indicated that signage within the information centre was not generally noticed by visitors. It was further established that poor visibility of the signage was partially responsible for the visitor’s inability to spot an internet resource area in the centre.

Furthermore the eye tracking glasses helped to establish that, although retail shelves were widely seen (noticed by 11 of the 15 participants), they did not attract a prolonged view nor resulted in purchases from these shelves, indicating that (among the sample group in this study) the purchase of retail products came secondary to the primary goal of seeking advice and information.

Finally, advertising posters on display throughout the visitor centre were also considered in this study.

Though reported to be effective by visitors, the advertising was not viewed for long throughout their journeys. Given the short view times, this indicates a high level of effectiveness in the advertising that was seen.

However, it was also obvious that much of the advertising went unnoticed due to its placement behind more prominent products. It became clear that for the advertising to be even more effective, it needs to be placed individually without any other merchandise products or leaflets obstructing it.

From the outset it was very apparent that visitors are immediately aware of our retail areas. It has given us a great insight into how we move forward and effectively merchandise displays.”

Visitor Services Area Manager, Visit Scotland

Shelves with leaflets are looked at differently depending on their location

The eye tracking data showed that visitors began by looking at the second (at eye-level) shelf first, but spent most of the time looking at the top shelf.

Furthermore the majority of the time was spent looking within central area of the rack, with the bottom shelf receiving the least attention, likely due to its location 15cm off the ground.

Leaflets located to the sides of the rack were also looked at for a much shorter time than the ones in the middle.

This analysis enabled User Vision to identify the most prominent leaflet rack areas, which in turn gave the visitor centre an indication as to how they may be able to tier their pricing for leaflet advertising.

Footfall areas were mapped out using recordings from glasses

Footfall heatmapThe retail area had a high footfall primarily due to the fact it is located on the way to maps area, but did not significantly attract visitor’s attention.

Based on the visitors’ journey recordings gathered with eye tracking glasses a footfall heat map was created. Each time a person went to the particular area of the centre this occurrence was recorded and later mapped out in a form of a “heat map” based on the frequency of visits.

This helped Visit Scotland to understand where visitors go throughout their visit and which of the Information Centre’s areas receive more or less footfall.

The ability to record these journeys without constantly observing test participants was especially effective as it helped to make the whole testing session feel more realistic and avoided disturbing participants in any way.

Why eye tracking?

Gaze trail on signageBeing able to record what users see without explicitly questioning them was the most important aspect of this study and eye tracking was the best tool to employ in this situation.

Furthermore, the mobility of eye tracking glasses allowed researchers to observe how visitors interact within real physical environments such as a retail area.

The IR markers allowed for greater granularity of the results and were therefore utilised in areas where accuracy was more important, e.g. analysing the effectiveness of revenue-generating displays.

What our client said

User Vision gave us the opportunity to find out how the eye-tracking techniques that we have used to develop our websites could be used in the live environment of our Information Centres.

It provided interesting and useful results for refining our retailing, information provision and customer service

Head of Insight, Visit Scotland

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