HCII Seminar Series

  • Stephen C. Hirtle
  • Professor and Chair of the Department of Information Science and Telecommunications at the University of Pittsburgh

Navigation in Electronic Environments

The ability to locate information in a complex information space requires specialized tools to support searching and browsing behavior. Inherent in browsing is the ability to navigate through informational items, while retaining a sense of orientation. A tripartite theory of navigation is presented based on cognitive studies of navigation in physical spaces, which divides navigation into three levels: planning, procedural and motor. The last two levels become critical for virtual reality, while the first two levels are critical for the traversal of more abstract information spaces, which is the focus of this talk.The analysis leads to various insights for information designers, which are demonstrated in two different environments. First, for hypertext navigation, it is argued that the inclusion of structural components, such as neighborhoods and landmarks, can improve the navigability of electronic spaces for browsing and non-directed search. Second, for spatial information kiosks, the use of text, images and maps, are shown to improve the accessibility of the information. Together, these two examples highlight the benefits of grounding information design in theories of wayfinding and spatial information processing.
For More Information, Please Contact: 
Catherine Copetas, copetas@cs.cmu.edu