Virtual Reality

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 55–62 | Cite as

Evaluating design guidelines for reducing user disorientation in a desktop virtual environment

  • Shamus P. SmithEmail author
  • Tim Marsh
Original Article


Navigation in virtual environments can be difficult. One contributing factor is user disorientation. Two major causes of this are the lack of navigation cues in the environment and problems with navigating too close to or through virtual world objects. Previous work has developed guidelines, informed by cinematography conventions, for the construction of virtual environments to aid user comprehension of virtual space to reduce user disorientation. To validate these guidelines, two user studies have been performed where users of a desktop virtual environment are to complete a navigation task in a virtual maze. In an initial study [12], collision detection with the maze walls was not enabled and the results indicated that the guidelines were effective for reducing disorientation but not for developing the user’s awareness of the environment space. A second study has been performed where collision detection was enabled. Results suggest that the use of the guidelines can help reduce the incidences of user disorientation and aid navigation tasks. However, the guidelines have little impact on users’ ability to construct cognitive maps of the desktop virtual environment.


Navigation Virtual environment User disorientation Design guidelines Evaluation study 



This work was supported in part by the UK EPSRC INQUISITIVE project [8], Grant GR/L53199, and the UK EPSRC DIRC project [7], Grant GR/N13999. The authors would like to thank the subjects who participated in the study, Alistair Edwards for comments on an earlier draft of this paper and the journal reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of YorkYork YO10 5DDUK
  2. 2.Department of Industrial DesignEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of DurhamDurham DH1 3LEUK
  4. 4.Integrated Media Systems CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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