Eye Tracking the iPad

We asked the participants to send a tweet of their choice using the hashtag #uv_wud so it would be included in the WUD tweets that went out on the day.

Using new eye tracking technology we were able to investigate the user experience associated with 2 twitter clients (Twitter and Twitterific) both selected from the top 10 twitter client list.

This research technique enabled us to get a detailed understanding of what the participants were looking at, with a depth of understanding that is not possible via more standard research techniques.

A majority of the participants had not used an iPad previously, all were smartphone users and roughly 50% owned an iPhone. It became clear that owning an iPhone only had a limited positive impact on their use of an iPad, ie. the metaphors varied.

We were interested in these ease of:

  • Sending a tweet
  • Signing out

Twitter log out

There was little difference found in terms of sending a tweet (the colour contrast of the ‘settings’ action button was the biggest problem on the Twitterific app and the notes metaphor on Twitter was disliked) surprisingly more issues were associated with signing out.

Twitterific SettingsGiven that the iPad can often be a shared device in an office environment or family, the signing out process is more important that it is on a smartphone, which normally stays with a single owner.

Issues associated with the signing out process were:

Twitter: The language used (‘Remove Account’ & ‘Delete’) – seems final and with profound consequences.

The interaction required, swiping across the account to reveal ‘delete’, was an unexpected and unintuitive gesture interaction.

Twitterific: With Twitterific the action button was hard to see due to colour contrast. Again, the label ‘Remove Account’ seemed drastic to users. The use of ‘Logout’ or Sign Out’ would be better as in the web view.

We captured task difficulty ratings along the following 7 point scale:

Scale bar


Overall there was a slight preference for the Twitter client as the method of signing out was considered a little easier:

Ratings per task

Results from the eye tracking:
The eye tracking revealed that the participants expected the sign-out action button would be located at the top of the page.

Given the normal scan pattern it was clear that the top of the page was the first place they looked.



Conclusions: Most iPad apps are not just larger versions of the iPhone apps and there is a degree of relearning required.

However, since many brand loyal users will be transferring their knowledge it is recommended that, for consistency, many aspects of the iPhone app are taken forward into the iPad app development process.

The other clear conclusion was that both of the iPad twitter apps made the signing out process unnecessarily difficult and unintuitive. This is important given the increased likelihood of multiple accounts being used on a single device.

Finally, avoid the notebook metaphor as this caused a little confusion with the notes function on the iPhone. For those with little experience using the device it may not be clear if they are utilising the appropriate function.


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