Navigating the online world

Gaze, fixations, and performance differences between younger and older users

Kirsty L. Beattie, Ben W. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The world’s populations and workforces are aging and older adults are now the fastest growing group of internet users. Unfortunately, age-related declines may prevent older adults from performing web-based tasks with the same ease as their younger counterparts. Recent studies have suggested that peripheral navigation may exacerbate age-related online performance gaps as older adults fail to adequately search peripheral elements. Such studies have however relied on the use of preexisting websites with no control for layout, complexity, or prior familiarity. This study tested whether age-related differences in online performance and search behavior exist across various navigational layouts. Participants (N = 47) completed four online tasks with purpose-built websites of equivalent difficulty, length, and content type, yet with varying navigational layouts (center; left-periphery; top-periphery; inconsistent). Participants’ performance (i.e., accuracy/efficiency), search behavior (i.e., eye gaze/fixation), and satisfaction were examined. Identifiable differences between age-groups and navigational layouts were found, with top-peripheral navigation proving most detrimental to the online performance and satisfaction of both younger and older adults. The results inform design principles that aim to increase older adults’ online functionality, and provide an extensive platform for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 05 Nov 2018

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Navigation
layout
performance
Aging of materials
Internet
website
world population
functionality
age group
efficiency
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