Assessing the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Map Colour for Colour Impairments Using an Eye-tracking Approach

Weihua Dong, Shaobo Zhang, Hua Liao, Zhao Liu, Zhilin Li, Xiaofang Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Colour impairments influences access to geographical information which is usually represented by colour maps. Three dimensions of colour: Hue, Saturation and Value (HSV), are intuitive and most critical visual variables in map design. In this paper, we specifically focus on colour deficiency of red-green colour impairments. A controlled experiment was designed and conducted to explore how three colour dimensions (HSV) affect the abilities of people with normal colour vision or with red-green colour impairments to distinguish colours in maps. An eye-tracking approach was applied to quantify the accuracy and response time by capturing user eye movements to analyse the effectiveness and efficiency. In this study, we used one section of the administrative map of Hebei Province to test participant responses to area features. Differences of effectiveness and efficiency across normal colour vision and red-green colour impairments were compared. Multiple comparisons among Hue, Saturation and Value were analysed. Results show that for both normal colour vision and red-green colour impairments, Hue is the most differentiable than Saturation and Value. Saturation and Value are at the same level to be differentiated and more difficult to be distinguished. Guidelines of designing maps for both normal colour vision and red-green colour impairments were derived. The results of this study can be helpful to improve the map designs for colour deficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalCartographic Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • effectiveness
  • efficiency
  • eye-tracking
  • HSV
  • red-green colour impairments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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