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A nudge, a wink and the ups and downs of surfing

webwatch

You have to love this computer stuff.

The latest input device is the Nouse.

No, this is absolutely true. It stands for Nose as Mouse and it seems to be the work of the National Research Council, Canada. The really great thing about the nouse, apart from using your nose to steer the cursor across the screen, is that you wink to activate the nouse buttons. I have a feeling that workplace harassment laws will be regularly invoked when everybody in the office has to start moving heads suggestively and winking. And what about people with colds? Read all aboud it at http: // perceptual-vision. com where there are demos and downloads which enable you to run the application using an ordinary USB webcam. Apparently. But maybe try it all out at home first. You don't want the copier room person to get the wrong idea.

At the risk of promoting a very preliminary and localised piece of research into web-design fact, I should report the findings of a recent study which suggests that web surfers look first at the top left hand corner of a web page, then across to the right and then back to the left and round about the middle, then down to the bottom and up the right hand side to the top. Mind you, most of the web pages used started off at the top left. Other results are that 'Dominant headlines most often draw the eye first' which is, er, exactly what they are supposed to do, and that smaller type encourages people to read the words rather than scan. Evangelist for resizable text that this column is, I am happy to report the Eyetrack III people's important caveat:

'You should make sure that people can read the font size you select in order to achieve the appropriate balance'.

Because of the size of the sample and its location (West Coast), plus the conventional layout of web pages, the Eyetrack project managers at www.

poynterextra. org/eyetrack2004 warn readers not to take the findings too seriously.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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