Navigational patterns in interactive multimedia
The central purpose of this thesis was to investigate users preferences for specific navigational patterns in multimedia. Subsidiary questions are whether users have preferences for working strategies, (the mental approach) are these similar for specific groups and are preferences affected by the navigational design. Four groups were investigated within two ranges: children to adults, and novices to experts. The literature review revealed four different navigation perspectives: user, designer, pedagogy and human-computer interaction with the research concentrating on the first two. Two empirical studies elicited the navigational information in a formal and rigorously applied structure. 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 investigations revealed a wide range of variation between individuals and within groups, with 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. This shows the rigorousness of the research and it is significant because this production of a set of patterns, a formal examination and verification process by an expert panel is rarely achieved. 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. The research was original as it provided a set series of navigation patterns that were re-usable and testable, and a series of guidelines for future developers, which can be further examined.