An Evaluation of the User Interface for Presenting Virtual Tours Online
Thesis DisciplineHuman Interface Technology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Human Interface Technology
The intention of this research is to evaluate and determine what is the best user interface for presenting virtual tours online through a mobile device. The mobile application will provide the ability to stand on location and look back in time through a series of virtual tours taken on different times at that same location. The content material for this thesis is the Red Zone virtual website tours taken by the researcher over the last three years. The primary motivation for capturing this material is to create a historical record which will be available for the future generations, not just in New Zealand but also overseas via online content. The application will be designed to display virtual tours and the supporting material. Through a series of iterations my research investigated the operational performance, the preferred design and layout of the user interface, and what product should be available online. This also means the user will gain an understanding and appreciation of the content material. Research indicates that being able to look back on old photos and images fulfils a human need of being able to more clearly understand and remember the past. This helps people to grieve and move forward from past losses and dramatic changes. The main results from the user study were was that there was no operational difference in timing between four different conditions. However there was a perceived difference. It was clear that participants preferred certain features to be included and most notably the launching of virtual tours from hotspots on a map. Other findings were the need to have an environment which included other information to make more it interesting and engaging. The addition of other information also helped create a sense of being on location when displayed alongside a virtual tour. Audio files were acknowledged as being a preferred inclusion as they added a little more “richness” to the environment. In summary, people were interested in interacting with the virtual tours with supporting content. All of these online features are helping to create an immersive environment that is engaging, interesting and promotes understanding. To be of value to any user it is very important to include other features and a variety of content material with the virtual tours. The way the virtual tours are presented online and the content material that may or may not be included will impact on the perception that people have of the application. These findings are presented to provide positive and pragmatic information that is of assistance to people who intend to use virtual tours online.