Title: Influence of spatial ability in navigation: using look-ahead breadcrumbs on The Web

Authors: Ishtiaq Ahmed, James Blustein

Addresses: Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada. ' Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Abstract: Breadcrumbs are a type of navigational aid intended to help users of large well-structured websites by providing information about the location of the current webpage within the site|s structure. The phenomenon of user disorientation (feeling lost) when using hypertext in abstract information-rich environments such as WWW-based directories is well known. Earlier experiments have been unable to explain why visual mediators that improve navigation for people with lower Spatial Ability (SA) seems to have the opposite effect for other people. Results from our experiment indicate that spatial ability influenced navigation efficiency in navigating a vast hierarchical website. Users in the higher SA group were more efficient and had a different (marginally significant) preference for website|s breadcrumbs over the browser|s Back button. There was no significant difference for time or accuracy between the two groups. Those results suggest that users with lower SA use different approaches to navigating websites than others.

Keywords: hypertext navigation; spatial ability; information space; information visualisation; breadcrumbs; navigational aids; web based communities; online communities; user disorientation; website navigation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2006.010309

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2006 Vol.2 No.2, pp.183 - 196

Published online: 13 Jul 2006 *

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