The effects of 3D interface metaphor on older adults’ mobile navigation performance and subjective evaluation

Qingchuan Li, Yan Luximon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Navigating vast information spaces through mobile interfaces has become a common activity in older adults' everyday lives. Studies suggested that interface metaphors could be used to facilitate users' metal model development and information processing when using mobile technologies. However, we know little about how metaphors affect older adults' mobile navigation behavior, and which user characteristics matter during this perceptual and cognitive process. To investigate this, a card interface with a 3D metaphor and a list interface without 3D metaphors were compared among twenty-two participants when performing four navigation tasks. User characteristics including demographic factors, technology experience, and user capabilities were examined. The participants' navigation performance and subjective evaluations were measured as the dependent variables. From the results, we recommend the list interface without 3D metaphors as a beneficial choice for older adults. It performed better in navigation performance, although the differences are not statistically significant. Moreover, navigation performance using the card interface with a 3D metaphor was significantly associated with participants' perceptual speed, thus this interface may be more sensitive to capability declines. Valuable insights into the older adults’ mobile navigation performance and preferences are discussed and important implications for the design of mobile navigation user interfaces are proposed based on the results. Relevance to industry: The experimental results propose a more beneficial way to present contents on a mobile user interface for older adults and provide valuable insights for the designers and industry to help them understand the older adults’ usage and perceptions towards the application of 3D metaphors when navigating with mobile interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-44
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • 3D interface metaphor
  • Mobile navigation
  • Older adults
  • Perceptual speed
  • User characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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