Tag Archives: digital

Do people notice web photos?

Compared to text, photos take longer to render. Websites with a lot of photos have slower loading times directly impacting user experience (UX). Limiting the number of photos is important to create fast loading and usable sites.

Photos: noticed or ignored?

Riegelsberger et al (no date) analysed the impact of photographs and found the following main points:

  • Text takes longer to process. Text interpretation simply takes longer.
  • First time visitors look at photos. Experience influences what we see.
  • Attractive facial photos are attention grabbing.
  • We learn page structure. Returning, thus familiar, visitors ignore regions unless text or photos are displayed.
  • Consistent user behaviour evidence does not exist. Some studies suggest photos of faces attract visual attention whereas other studies suggest we ignore photos because we link them to adverts causing banner blindness.

Critical analysis of Riegelsberger et al’s work would conclude that we should: (i) limit the number of web photos, (ii) include first time and return visitors in user personas, (iii) create relevant photos and think about using a facial photo to catch the attractive-seeking eye.

Web photo tips and analysis

We scan webpages often unconsciously. Page location impacts attention. Element size affects attention maintenance. Larger elements do not get more attention. Think about where you place items as supposed to what size they are.

Photos add character to websites. Text heavy websites, from a design viewpoint, are dull. Interesting websites have character with a positive balance of text and other media formats, such as, videos and photos, for example. Use a mixture of formats on your website.

One of the most tactful and clever ways to gain hyperlinks is to produce unusually striking photos and allow other people to use or edit them under a Creative Commons License. Your license can be granted under the condition that the user attributes the photo — the hyperlink. Creative commons’ licenses are tactfully very effective for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Photo attention hot spots

Which screen position gets the most attention?

Position 1 in the image above gains the most attention, followed by postion 2 and 3. We also tend to associate position 1 with 2 whereas position 3, on the right hand side, is usually associated with advertisements. Owens (2011) also found that things we associate with adverts cause blindness regardless of format (text and photos).

Including photos on your website

Include great photos because they add character and improve the overall UX. Limit the number of photos, though. Depending upon how familiar a user is with your website they will either ignore or focus their attention on your photos. The location of elements on your website is important because we scan for information too.

It is also worth noting that search tasks influences photo acknowledgement and concentration. An Amazon user is likely to focus on photos if their task is to buy a product. If, however, a frequent user goes onto website-a to read an article photos might be ignored.

Do you work with digital media? How many photos do you recommended? Share your thoughts by tweeting Gerald.

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  1. Granka, L. (2006) Location, location, location: Viewing patterns on WWW pages. Proceedings of ACM. [Volume and issue numbers missing] pp. 43
  2. Owens, J.W. (2011) Are users blind to text advertisements? Usability News. 13(1) pp. 1 — 6
  3. Riegelsberger, J. Sasse, M.A. and McCarthy, J.D. (no date) Eye-Catcher or Blind Spot? The Effect of Photographs of Faces on E-Commerce Sites. [journal title missing] [Volume and issue numbers missing] pp. 1 — 15

How do we carry out a web search?

Keywords are fundamental to web search engines because keyword searching is required for all search engines.

Four ways in which we browse*

Electronic search
We search electronic resources, such as, catalogs, magazines or websites, for instance, in order to find information that meets our information need.
Physical search
In order to find something out we look up physical resources, for example, books or leaflets.
Serendipity browsing
Traditionally speaking serendipity browsing refers to finding information within a library. The idea, which can be applied to the whole web today, is that if you know one item is good then you can find similar items based on this original item. So “related searches” or “similar items” are modern web search engine examples of serendipity browsing.
Information task switch
This involves a searcher switching between electronic and physical resources to find information. For example, reading a book and using a web search engine to find out more about a topic you have just read.

*Adapted from (Spink 2003:344) who also found that we are likely to carry out many searches within one search. Carrying out an actual web search is not just a simple and quick task because it is comprised of several quick-fire queries.

Popular web search engines

Popular web search engines. Source.

Why do we browse and ask for more information?

There are several ‘triggers‘ which make us want to find out more information. The first is breaking a search down into tasks, for example, find out if it is BBQ weather at the weekend (task one) then asking a navigational query for “Tesco” to buy things for a BBQ (task two). Secondly, whenever we search and we read something interesting this triggers another search task. Thirdly, if our search results have something unexplained within them then we need to change our search to find this information out. Fourthly, and finally, if there is something missing from our overall search plan then this triggers a need to fill in this missing gap.

Digital marketing and search

Search engines allow your website to be found but you have a very short window in which to grab attention. Designing smart, clear and usable technologies will help make this browser find information or, even better, convert.

Do you ask for numerous search queries within one search? Tweet Gerald.

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  • Day, V.L. and Jeffries, R. (1993) Orienteering in an Information Landscape: How Information Seekers Get From Here to There. Interchi ’93. [issue, volume and page numbers missing]
  • Spink, A. (2003) Multitasking information behavior and information task switching: an exploratory study. Journal of Documentation. 69(1) pp. 336 — 351.