Navigational patterns in interactive multimedia

Fenley, Sue (2006). Navigational patterns in interactive multimedia. PhD thesis The Open University.



The central purpose of this thesis is to investigate whether users have distinct preferences for specific navigational patterns in multimedia: that is preferences for moving through multimedia. Subsidiary questions are whether users have preferences for working strategies, (the mental approach to investigating software) whether these preferences are similar for specific groups and whether these preferences are affected by the software's system and navigational design. Four groups were investigated within two ranges: children to adults, and novices to experts. The literature review revealed four different perspectives of investigating navigation: user, designer, pedagogy and human computer interaction and although this research concentrates on the first two perspectives the other two are integral and of equal importance.

Two empirical studies elicited the navigational information. The first studied pairs of children undertaking set tasks in multimedia, and demonstrated that although each pair had definite preferences, each group did not utilise the full pattern range discerned from the observations, literature review and multimedia package analysis. The second study was redesigned using individual adults to ascertain the full range of preferred patterns in use. The essential element from the investigations was the wide range of variation between individuals and within groups. There was a gradual progression in their range and speed using these patterns, related to their skills, abilities and experience, and each individual could be placed along a continuum. Topologies of the multimedia packages and diagrams of the fit of the navigation patterns were included. Finally an expert panel was convened to verify the pattern range and their comments supported the new classification.

The research outcomes included navigational patterns and working strategies classifications, future techniques for designers, and user methods. These will create more successful and informed multimedia, and forward developments and improvements in the design of high quality user preference software.

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