A recent findings from an Eye Track Shop study via AllThingsD demonstrates how users perceive the homepage layouts of the two sites, the study is fouced on: Google+ and Facebook differently - or, how they don't perceive them differently at all.
Eye Track Shop, a company that provides eye-tracking technology that interacts with the webcams of participants, has taken a look at how users interact with the user interfaces of the homepage of Facebook and Google+.
The study created heatmaps based on the average behavior of 54 participants. The conclusion is that users behave almost identically on Google+ and Facebook.
Users' eyes head straight for the big status column in the middle of the screen, then over to the list of categories on the left side, then hop across to alerts on the right. That's according to an eye-tracking study conducted last week by EyeTrackShop, which offers an eye-tracking tool that participants use with their own computers' Webcams.
As you can see in the heatmap below, the majority of the attention goes to the main feed, with the notifications on the left and right getting the next most substantial amount of attention.
The items further down on the right column (for Facebook, ads, and for Google+, invitations to sub-features of the network) get the least amount of attention.
The study found that users look to their stream first, their left notifications second, their right notifications third, their status bar fourth, and the bottom-right of the page last. However, it all happens very quickly.
EyeTrackShop was actually looking to establish whether ads on Google+ have more or less potential than ads on Facebook, though that seems a bit premature, given that Google+ has no ads whatsoever yet.
The study found that 50 percent of participants fixated -- for one second, at approximately five seconds into their session -- on at least one of the ads shown on Facebook. When the same ads were overlaid on Google+, panelists responded similarly.
This means that users are perceiving Google+ as being virtually identical in its UI - unsurprisingly, considering how similar the interfaces look. More importantly, it means that Google+ could take advantage of a similar monetization with ads if they chose to.