I think it would be valuable to study how people’s eyes move over newspapers, particularly the front page. It could show us how people prioritize what they look at first and how the order is set. Of course this would also be useful for newspapers to help attract attention, and I would be surprised if a similar study has not already been conducted.
Why is eye tracking useful in studying this?
Eye-tracking is useful because every eye movement could be monitored. People could be asked what they were drawn to first, but eye-tracking is the only way to know for sure.
Why would eye tracking work well?
Eye tracking would work well because it is precise and makes it less likely for human error to interfere.
Would it be better to have multiple methods?
I think it would be a good idea to record the eye movements of people as they look at the front page of a newspaper and then have them answer questions on what they were drawn to and how they prioritized information. This would be a way to check for difference between how participants believe they moved their eyes and how they actually did.
First a single front page of a newspaper needs to be decided on. Then a group of people will individually have their eyes tracked while they skim the front page of the newspaper (30 seconds perhaps).
Afterwards participants should answer a questionnaire on how they prioritized information and what they were drawn to first. This information of course will be less accurate than the actual tracking.
Hopefully it could be determined how people process such a large amount of information in a short time and how they choose what to look at first. It would be interesting to see how much variation there is between people – whether everyone is immediately drawn to the largest image or whether some people instinctively check another part of the page first.
Challenges of the study
The greatest challenge would be actually coming up with an easy way to track all the eye movements of a person at a distance that it can be determined exactly which part of the page they are looking at and how long. Depending on the size of the sample it would even be possible to examine different front pages.