Home pages for high street retailers may initially come across as similar, but their actual performance differs strongly due to the design of the navigation menus.

Clothes retailing has always been a competitive trade, even more so online. It is therefore important to know what is the key that makes or breaks the difference to competitors.

To find that out, Realeyes ran an eye-tracking test on some online clothes retailers. 49 people were asked to buy a pair of trousers while their interaction with the page was recorded with the latest eye-tracking solutions.

Menu design appeared to make a big difference in the overall performance of each page. A good example is set below by the menu on Debenhams’ page:

The graphics of this menu element quickly grabbed attention (average time to view only 2.3 seconds) and it took people only 6.6 seconds on average to understand the content of the menu and click on the right item. The view-to-click chart below describes the results in detail.


Marks & Spencers’ menu (below), on the other hand, turned out as a bad example of menu design.

It took people over 25% more time to locate the menu item with their eyes, but even more importantly it took people a whopping 13.7 seconds (on the internet that is a LOT of time) to actually make sense of the menu and click on any of the items there. The view-to-click chart below describes it in detail.


M&S very likely created this menu with best intentions, to give people more information. But testing with real users proved this load is clearly too much.

The following table summarises the overall performance of tested pages. It shows that forcing people to interact with too much information upfront significantly decreases important performance indicators such as success rate, time to completion and user satisfaction.

The bottom line is that findings like this are possible only through testing with real people. Incorporating eye-tracking into user tests is easy, but adds rich insights that can sharpen your competitive edge.

I’m happy to explain further here in the comments thread or via mihkel@realeyes.it.

Mihkel Jaatma is the co-founder of eyetracking specialists