Using eye tracking gear, observation and exit interviews, the researcher's updated Eyetrack study evaluated how 36 people interacted with real news stories on an iPad, with these people split between the ages of 18-28 and 45-55.
What the study discovered was that there were two kinds of tablet reader; those that were ‘intimately’ involved with the iPad (accounting for 61% of respondents) and those that carefully arranged their articles prior to reading.
Intimate readers maintained ‘nearly constant’ touch contact with the iPad while reading, and tended to read just one or two lines of text before making subtle changes to the text.
Tablet reading was carried out of the same 20 stories across three different layouts.
'Traditional' was similar to an online newspaper with a dominant photo and lead headline, 'Carousel' had images and headlines for each of the stories, while the 'Flipboard' design presented four images for stories from each category.
The majority of tablet readers (51%) preferred the carousel view, with 35% opting for the traditional layout and 15% liking the Flipboard design.
While it was slightly marginal for those preferring the carousel layout, it was more clear-cut for device orientation, with 70% of respondents preferring the horizontal/landscape view to vertical/portrait. Some respondents put this down to the screen dimension when watching videos.
Poynter also found that readers viewed an average of 18 stories before selecting a story to read, and revealed that readers spent on average 98.3 seconds on that first story. Those readers that didn't finish their first story spent 78.3 seconds reading.