Influence of Spatial Ability in Navigation: Using look-ahead breadcrumbs on the Web


Ishtiaq Ahmed
James Blustein

Author Addresses: 

Faculty of Computer Science
Dalhousie University
6050 University Ave.
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
B3H 4R2


Spatial implications of the commonly used 'navigation' metaphor have lead many researchers to investigate the relation between individual differences and navigation. This study presents an exploratory survey on the influence of spatial ability, the most incisive aspect of individual difference for navigation, when people try to accomplish their goal in the information space. There are still different opinions about the potential of visual mediators for people with low spatial ability that help in refraining from the state of being disoriented or lost in the huge information content. The findings motivated us to design a research framework focusing a special visual look-ahead breadcrumb tool. Breadcrumbs are a type of navigational aid that help users from being lost in large websites by providing information about their location in the site hierarchy. The framework is presented after the preliminary discussion. The results from the experiment report that spatial ability influenced navigation efficiency on the Web. The effect of spatial ability was marginally significant on the use of Back button during navigation. However, there was no interaction effect found between spatial ability and the visual look-ahead breadcrumbs on the navigation performance of the users.

Tech Report Number: 
Report Date: 
January 1, 2005
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