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Looks Can Kill Your Design Effectiveness


2 minute read

When you use a human model in an email campaign, print / banner ad or landing page – does it help or hinder usability, persuasion and conversion?

Research from eye-tracking specialists Bunnyfoot and Think Eyetracking show that a model’s eyes influence your eye movement:

Bunnyfoot, via GrokDotCom

Think Eyetracking, via GrokDotCom

When conducting email tests, often the variables considered are subject lines, headlines, time/date of delivery, offers, call to action buttons, prices or featured products. But as Bryan Eisenberg suggests, you should treat a model’s gaze as a testing variable.

Though this research has been known for a while, most ecommerce creative using human models use the “here’s looking at you” approach:

Or the “looking in the opposite direction”:

With the occasional “looking at something”:

While I find the research fascinating, I’d like to see eye-tracking studies that compare when a model looks head-on vs. at a headline vs. at a featured product vs. at a call to action button — combined with actual impact on conversion and average order value / revenue.


Linda Bustos
Linda Bustos
Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.
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