Love this story: in 2001, the people behind Eyetools Research did a survey on the E-Trade home page. The full story is here: Wasting money on content in Visual Dead Zones. They tested just four people. From this test they added sheer gibberish into the above-the-fold real estate which had been flagged up as dead space on those four tests. Then they inserted gibberish into the dead space.
Examples of the gibberish tested on E*Trade’s homepage:
- FDIC distrusts us * No Bank Quality * Will Lose Value
- Not ready to event an insurance? Tax group of our manager discussion free of funds.
- Get $25 to close an E*Trade Bank Money Market Plus Advice! Tax a gear cool and ATM access!
- …and more
Then, we re-tested the modified homepage in the lab. As a secondary test, we also sent it out to a bunch of people who we didn’t eyetrack. After people had seen the page while evaluating whether they were interested in signing up for E*Trade’s services, we asked them if there was anything strange about the homepage. Only 1 in 25 people noticed!
I wonder if you could ever take an average of the amount of dead space above the fold on home pages across the Web? And then work out what it’s costing to serve all that dead space? If we filled it or used it, what would Internet economics then look like?
(Via Eyetools Research.)