5 eye-tracking heat maps reveal where Canadians look when reviewing parties’ websites during the federal election

In 2015, the internet is almost universally assumed to be essential to win an election. Politics changed forever in 2008 when the Obama campaign’s use of the internet played a large role is his presidential election.

“Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee,” said Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post.

As the federal election campaign enters its last mile, the latest polls put the Liberals ahead, followed closely by the Conservatives while the NPD continues its drop.

In terms of interest in Google search for the top 3 leaders, Justin Trudeau is taking the lead, followed by Stephen Harper, and finally Thomas Mulcair:

Canadian Elections Google Trend

It’s fascinating to see how the trend of search volumes in the last 30 days is similar to the poll averages:

CBC Poll Tracker

One might wonder why they’re paying expensive fees to market research companies when you can get accurate data on Google Trends for free? :)

Besides the traditional political analysts and news sources, the party websites are now a critical tool to streamline the path to informed voting. In that spirit, we wanted to know where Canadians are looking when they visit these websites during the election. Tracking eye movements can provide us with fascinating insights into layout designs and reveal differences between male and female’s behavior tendencies. Thanks to the eye-tracking technologies from the Mediative Lab, we can tap into subconscious processes and decisions of an audience to understand which elements of the websites’ layouts trigger the fundamental brain circuits responsible to attention, cognition, and emotion.

To conduct this test we asked 10 people, 5 men and 5 women, to visit the websites of the top 5 parties (Liberals, Conservatives, NPD, Bloc & Green Party) and look for the information they feel is important to them as a Canadian voter.

The distribution of Fixations

Eye-tracking heat maps are an excellent method to visualize which area attracts the attention. For the conservative party, women spend more time looking at the family portrait; men are focusing on the bottom headlines:

Conservative Party Heat Map

Time to first fixation (TTFF) is a metric used to indicate the amount of time it takes someone to focus on a specific AOI (Area of Interest). Let’s say the Become a Member button is an important goal for the conservative party. It took women an average of 4.15s to find it and men only 1.9s.

For the NPD, the dominant headline is drawing the attention from both groups, but the Top 10 headline is significantly more popular with women:

NPD Heat Map

For the Liberals, everyone focuses on Justin Trudeau but women spend more time looking at him. In terms of time spent on a specific AOI, Men looked at The Platform button twice as long as women and none of them gazed at the Donate button:

Liberals Heat Map

Humans have a natural tendency to follow the gaze of others as we have been trained to follow arrows since birth. The Liberals are using this aspect of human’s subconscious processes effectively, notice how both groups are looking at Justin’s line of sight.

For the Bloc, the giant headline in the middle of the screen gathers all the attention, but men focused longer on the Logo and the Donate button.

The Bloc Heat Map

For the Green Party, women tend to focus a lot on Elisabeth May’s face and they took the time to read that quote at the bottom left. Men in the other hand seem intrigued by the Logo :)

Green Party Heat Map

The Pledge to Vote button attracted the attention of women in 3.8s on average, while men took almost 9s to gaze at it.

In Summary, according to the findings of our study, it seems that Justin Trudeau is very popular among women; the conservative party’s membership is more appealing towards men, the Bloc’s layout can be confusing, the NPD is generating neutral emotions and the Green Party will attract more female voters.

Joking aside, don’t forget to vote and let democracy prevail!

Hicham Damahi on twitter
Hicham Damahi
Hicham is a Senior Strategist in Organic Search at Mediative. When he’s not at his desk he can be found on a tennis court or organizing last minute happy hours.