Perceptions of electronic navigation displays

Electronic navigation maps

  • support drivers when travelling within unfamiliar areas
  • need to support several tasks; visual search, location assessment, and complex integrative route planning
  • are used while driving, when drivers should not take more than quick glances at them, it is essential that they do not impair driving safety.
  • will become a necessity in future vehicle configurations, i.e., as vehicles become more semi-autonomous and drivers changre from active operators of the vehicle to passive monitors

The study

  • examined different display formats to better support usability and aesthetic requirements.
  • aimed to validate the results found by Lavie, Oron-Gilad and Meyer (2010).
  • further examine additional design attributes – focusing on:
    • graphic style
    • landmarks and how landmarks affect aesthetic perceptions
    • rural and urban road maps

figure 2

Figure 1. Examples of maps in a ‘Traditional elegant monochromatic’ graphic style, with more (right maps) and less (left maps) information for the rural (upper row) and urban (bottom row) settings.

Experiment 2 further examined maps with non-aesthetic graphic styles to see how that affects usability perception and actual use.

figure 12

Figure 1. Examples of maps. Right: a ‘Realistic green’ graphic style, Left: an illustration of an ‘arbitrary’ color arrangement, i.e., the color coded areas do not correspond with the driver’s route.

To read more, look for:

Talia Lavie and Tal Oron-Gilad, Perception of navigation displays, to appear in Behaviour & Information Technology


This study evaluated aesthetics and usability of in-vehicle electronic navigation maps. Experiment 1 examined map displays that varied in the amount of information presented, abstraction level, graphic/color style, and the existence of landmarks in both urban and rural environments using objective and subjective measures. Twenty participants performed navigation/localization tasks using avrious map configurations while driving a driving simulator and completed usability and aesthetic questionnaires. The minimal detail map produced better performances and higher usability and aesthetic ratings when using maps with no landmarks. Adding information in the form of landmarks was found advantageous compared to additional textual information. Abstractions were most advantageous when combined with minimal amount of detail. Moderate abstractions were sufficient for obtaining the desired benefits when more details were present. The graphic/color style affected subjective perceptions. Overall, high correlations were found for the perceived aesthetics and usability scales, however, low correlations were found between actual usability (i.e., performance) and perceived usability pointing to the importance of using both objective and subjective usability measures. Experiment 2 examined how maps varying in their aesthetic level (aesthetic versus non-aesthetic), different color arrangements, and 2D versus 3D landmarks affect subjective and objective measures. Participants distinguished between usability and aesthetic perceptions and usability perceptions were less affected by aesthetics when the aesthetic level of the maps was low. Color arrangement did not affect the measures examined. Both 2D and 3D landmarks were found to be aesthetic and usable. We conclude this paper with guidelines for designing in-vehicle navigation map displays.

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