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New techology run by Space Between helps companies know what online browsers think about their wesites

A digital agency expects to double its turnover thanks to technology which can tell companies where online browsers are looking on their websites.

Sitting comfortably in front of a computer with a Velcro strap wrapped around my fingers, Luke Frake asks me to look at a web story which he has sent to my screen.

After a good read - the story was on KentOnline.co.uk - he sends me another page to glance over, inviting me to say what I like and what I don't.

This is the new bio-metric UX lab, on which his company Space Between has just invested a six-figure sum.

Alex Ford at Space Between demonstrates the bio-metric UX lab
Alex Ford at Space Between demonstrates the bio-metric UX lab

It aims to give businesses an insight into how their websites work well and where they can improve, using a range of data collected on test subjects who interact with webpages put in front of them.

After being a guinea pig, Luke invites me around to his screen at the company's offices in Ashford to see how his business interprets reactions to help clients make money.

The Velcro straps which I have just taken off contain sensors which measure perspiration, while technology fitted to the screen tracks eye movements and subtle changes in facial expressions which indicate pleasure, frustration or even anger.

All this is collated onto a timeline measuring a series of emotions, with peaks and troughs on the graphs at various points as Luke plays back an uncomfortably close-up video of my face staring into the screen.

A pointer shows where my gaze has moved to different points on the webpage, dancing around intently at some parts and skirting over others.

"With this, I can see which parts of a website you didn't like and which parts you did..." - Luke Frake, Space Between 

"The reason this is necessary is because we are so English," said Luke.

"It's like when you get your hair cut. Even if I don't like it I tell the barber 'yes it looks amazing' when they ask me how I feel.

"With this, I can see which parts of a website you didn't like and which parts you did. Here's a part of the website where you furrowed your brow and here's a part where you smiled slightly."

Luke, who set up the company in 2015 with fellow directors Marcus Cooke and John Parkinson, hopes this new technology will become his company's primary business.

The firm began life as an idea over beer and pizza when he met John at a London networking event.

Some of the team at Space Between in Ashford
Some of the team at Space Between in Ashford

In true tech industry style, their next meeting was at the Five Bells Inn at Brabourne, near Ashford, also involving his friend Marcus, who he met working at Holiday Extras near Hythe.

The trio soon set up shop as Space Between in an office above recruitment agency RHL, a sister company of HRGO, where John is a director with his father Jack.

HRGO became the company's first client, undergoing a complete redesign of its website, leading to business from pram retailer Mamas & Papas.

Today, Space Between has grown to employ 15 people and aims to double its annual turnover, having achieved the feat last year.

"Rather than report back what users are saying, we report back what users are thinking..." - Luke Frake, Space Between

It is one of only two digital agencies in the UK running a biometric lab, usually reserved for scientists carrying out research at universities.

Luke said: "The lab is about making sure a website is as easy as possible for people using it.

"Rather than report back what users are saying, we report back what users are thinking.

"This gives clients data to back up their creative decisions. If they can increase conversion rates by parts of a percentage that can be millions of pounds of turnover to a large company.

"It can offer some home truths and sometimes that's really helpful. People in a company care a lot about the brand and the team of people who make decisions will have certain areas they are very proud of.

"Sometimes it's really nice to invalidate some of their beliefs. They know their website back to front but realistically they cannot give a neutral opinion."

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