Web Usability Evaluation Based on Eye Tracking. Case Study of Lithuanian National Museum Website

Andrius Šuminas
Media Research Lab, Vilnius University

Arūnas Gudinavičius
Media Research Lab, Vilnius University


Purpose/thesis: The aim of the research paper is to outline web usability evaluation based on eye tracking and to determine the usability of the website of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania from the user perspective in the process of searching for the most required information.

Approach/methods: A literature analysis was used to get acquainted with usability evaluation methods and the historical review of visual attention studies. Questionnaire based interviews with visitors of the museums were used to collect information about people information needs and searching patterns on museum websites. In order to evaluate the website of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania the researchers used eye tracking equipment.

Results and conclusions: The eye tracking have recently gained attention in different research areas, however issues of museum website design and usability research using eye tracking techniques and methods have not been widely discussed in scientific literature so far.

The research on the information needs of the visitors of Lithuanian museum websites revealed the most required information: opening hours, museum location, entrance ticket price and information about exhibitions. The results confirmed the assumption that people used museum websites as a primary tool to prepare for a visit at the physical museum.

The eye tracking analysis of the website of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania revealed the typical mistakes and errors made in information placement. When the information most needed by the users is placed in different parts and levels of the website, the visitors have to spend more time and effort to find the information and to prepare for a visit at the museum.

 Issues of the museum websites design are not widely discussed in worldwide scientific literature. There are no data about eye tracker based research on museum websites done in Lithuania before. The analysis results may contribute to new knowledge about designing successful interfaces for museum websites. Moreover, the results could be used in a broader field to improve the interfaces and information representation for websites in general.


Web usability. Eye Tracking. Museum websites. Information needs.

13.02.2015. Revised: 02.06.2015. Accepted: 12.06.2015.


Defining Web Usability

The rapid development of Internet technology brings the changes in the form of interaction of all institutions and companies with their users and visitors. The significance of website design is growing as it serves two purposes: to interact with stakeholders and to create a positive image of the company. It explains the increasing focus on the topic of website usability. Although different definitions of usability have been proposed to this day, in the general sense, it refers to the quality of products and systems from the point of view of humans who use them. According to ISO 9241–11 (Ergonomic Requirements for Office Work with Visual Display Terminals) recommendation, which became the standard for the usability specialist community, it is defined as:
the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use (ISO, 1998).

Jakob Nielsen, who is widely quoted for formulating the main parameters describing the rules of usability, defines it as:
quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process (Nielsen, 2012).

The five components which describe usability are: learnabilityefficiencymemorabilityerrors, and satisfaction. Matera and colleagues (2006) refined those parameters to capture the specificity of web applications. Their interpretation of the rules proposed by Nielsen is as follows:

  1. 1. Web application learnability must be interpreted as the ease for Web users to understand from Home Page the contents and services made available through the application, and how to look for specific information using the available links for hypertext browsing. Learnability also means that each page in the hypertext front-end should be composed in a way so as contents are easy to understand and navigational mechanisms are easy to identify.
  2. 2. Web applications efficiency means that users that want to find some contents can reach them quickly through the available links. Also, when users get to a page, they must be able to orient themselves and understand the meaning of the page with respect to their navigation starting point.
  3. 3. Memorability implies that, after a period of non-use, users are still able to get oriented within the hypertext, for example by means of navigation bars pointing to landmark pages.
  4. 4. Few errors mean that in case users have erroneously followed a link, they should be able to return to their previous location.
  5. 5. Users’ satisfaction finally refers to the situation in which users feel that they are in control with respect to the hypertext, thanks to the comprehension of available contents and navigational commands.

Accessibility is another important concept regarding usability – it focuses on those properties of websites which allow for the access of any class of users using any type of technology. When websites are correctly designed and developed, all users have equal access to information and functionality. The task of preparing the guidelines of accessibility was performed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) which developed WCAG 2.0: a technical standard. It has 12 guidelines that are organized under four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.


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