Navigating the online world: Gaze, fixations and performance differences between younger and older users

Kirsty L. Beattie, Ben W. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


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)1487-1500
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number16
Early online date05 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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