UCT CS Research Document Archive

Improving web interaction in small screen displays

Jones, Matt, Gary Marsden, Mohd-Nasir Norliza and Kevin Boone (1999) Improving web interaction in small screen displays. Computer Networks 31:1129-1137.

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Soon many people will retrieve information from the Web using handheld, palmsized or even smaller computers. Although these computers have dramatically increased in sophistication, their display size is – and will remain – much smaller than their conventional, desktop counterparts. Currently, browsers for these devices present web pages without taking account of the very different display capabilities. As part of a collaborative project with Reuters, we carried out a study into the usability impact of small displays for retrieval tasks. Users of the small screen were 50% less effective in completing tasks than the large screen subjects. Small screen users used a very substantial number of scroll activities in attempting to complete the tasks. Our study also provided us with interesting insights into the shifts in approach users seem to make when using a small screen device for retrieval. These results suggest that the metaphors useful in a full screen desktop environment are not the most appropriate for the new devices. Design guidelines are discussed, here, proposing directed access methods for effective small screen interaction. In our ongoing work, we are developing such “meta-interfaces” which will sit between the small screen user and the “conventional” web page.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:194
Deposited By:Marsden, Gary
Deposited On:10 December 2004