Perceptions of electronic navigation displays

Lavie, T. and Oron-Gilad, T., Perception of navigation displays, Behaviour & Information Technology, (in press) accepted November 2011.


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 various map configurations while driving a driving simulator and completed usability and aesthetic questionnaires (using the Perceived aesthetics and usability questionnaire items for maps). 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.

Here are some map images:

Examples of maps with more (right maps) and less (left maps) information for the rural (upper row) and urban (bottom row) settings

image image
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Rural maps showing examples of the three graphic styles used in Experiment 1 (a-c) and an example of the additional non-aesthetic color palette used in Experiment 2

(a) Contemporary Blueimage (b) Traditional Grayimage (c) Realistic Green


(d) Non-aesthetic color combination


Examples of landmarks in an urban map

No landmarks


Few landmarks – close to the route


Many landmarks


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