Using Eye Tracking to Evaluate the Usability of Animated Maps


Abstract: Cartographic animation has been developed and widely used in geo-visualisation and many other areas in recent years. The usability of animated maps is a key characteristic affecting map users’ effectiveness and efficiency in accomplishing tasks. In this paper, an eye tracking approach was proposed as a visual analytics method to evaluate the usability of animated maps by capturing participants’ eye movement data and quantitatively analysing the accuracy (effectiveness) and response time (efficiency) of users’ task completion. In the study, a set of animated traffic maps represented by three important visual variables (colour hue, size and frequency) was used for the usability evaluation. The experimental results showed that the usability of these three visual variables for cartographic animation affects the usability of animated maps. Red, yellow, and aqua were found to convey map information more effectively than other colour hues. Size was found to be more usable than colour hues for both animated maps and static maps. Usability was not found to be proportional to the playback rate of animated maps. Furthermore, the usability of the frequency, colour hue, and size was found to be related to the display’s size. We hope that the analysis approach presented in this paper and the results of this study will be of help in the design of cartographic animation displays with better usability.

Cite this paper: Dong, W., Liao, H., Xu, F., Liu, Z., & Zhang, S. (2014). Using eye tracking to evaluate the usability of animated maps. Science China Earth Sciences, 57(3), 512-522. DOI:


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