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Optimizing Website Design

By Krystle Farrugia

The project for GFI Software was related to the company’s process of re-designing its key customer-facing website, GFI.com, and designing and launching GFISoftware.com. The two sites are positioned to engage with a number of target user groups. The organization of content (text, photography, and video) within the overall design and layout schemas of the new sites are critical factors in determining whether users will actually interact with content in the manner envisaged by the GFI project team -i.e., whether they will progress to specific inner pages within the site, click on promotions, engage with specific areas, proceed to checkout, etc. 

GFI entrusted AAT Research to apply its neuromarketing expertise and proprietary technology to conduct in-depth usability analysis of the proposed design schemas of the new sites by testing a large number of webpage templates (screens). At AAT we were confident that we were in a position to help optimize GFI’s online marketing and customer relationship management operations by focusing on the areas of the brain that would produce the desired response in GFI target demographic groups. In the process, this will help GFI secure a competitive advantage in an aggressive marketplace.


GFI Software opted for neuromarketing testing as opposed to their usual market testing using focus groups due to the high importance they attributed to these new websites. They believed that neuromarketing techniques could assist them in creating a more engaging experience for their new and regular customers. AAT Research and GFI had already successfully collaborated on a neuromarketing project related to software design so it was only natural that we would extend our collaboration to the testing of the design and functionality of their websites. 

The project was divided into two phases. The aim of the first phase of the study was to obtain physiological evidence on how people respond to specific elements of the dummy website design using screenshots. A specific battery of tests to highlight sections of the site that triggered “user-friendliness” and attention were accurately designed. The website was then created with these results as guidelines. The aim of the second phase was to test the subjects’ physiological response to the actual website design and functionality once it was put online.

In a project with the scope and scale of the GFI Project, data was gathered using a range of equipment including a clinical 21-channel EEG system, eye-tracking cameras, Galvanic Skin Response, and purposely built software for cognitive analysis and analysis of mouse movement when navigating through the actual website. By analyzing EEG readings, it is possible to detect the processes that lead to certain decisions and to determine the part of the brain that implemented these processes. The additional physiological data gathered on changes in skin temperature, eye movement, as well as mouse movement and clicks, create a more holistic and accurate picture of the subjects’ responses to specific triggers.


The results show that the most effective parts of the webpages are those which mention the company’s products. Subjects focused on these areas as these are the details that offer a product to the customer.

They lingered on these details as they tried to figure out which product could be of use to them. Sections of the websites which attracted attention were those with colorful details and a visually stimulating layout. This is important to maintain the overall attention span of the subject. If the subject gets bored he or she will quickly move on to another page. Some areas which had too many focal points, created by colored details or buttons, did not hold attention for a considerable period on a particular area, but the eyes, and mouse, moved from one section to the other quickly. This means that the subjects did not stop to consider the information that was given at each section.

Subjects generally do not focus on areas that contain a lot of text, but read subtitles which are usually in a different color or held in a colored button. These, therefore, contain short but effective information from which the subjects obtain an indication of what can be of personal interest.

Users, especially those who are executive, do not have much time on their hands so they need brief details that give enough information quickly, without having to scroll or enter other pages.

The results show that both websites were engaging and maintained the users’ attention and interest. The pages were also visually enticing and the design concept was highly successful. A number of recommendations were made based on the results gathered, particularly regarding the use of colored details, images, and text placement.


The research on this project for GFI shows that neuromarketing can be an integral part of the design process of any product. Testing was done on the first drafts of the design of the webpages. The results indicated to the designers which areas were effective and which needed amending. The final functional website was tested in the second phase. This project indicates that neuromarketing is not just useful for testing final products, but also for testing products in the design phase, therefore, saving the developer time and money by being set on the right track from the start.

This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook. Order your copy today