Current forms of online help are increasingly making use of images (graphical illustrations or photographs), along with textual instructions to effectively assist users in performing a specific task. Users typically want to accomplish tasks quickly and devote limited attention to help systems. Hence, it is essential that these images facilitate efficient understanding of the task at hand and complement the instructions well. The first goal of the project was to create quick and inexpensive images that work better than or as well as existing graphical illustrations. The second goal was to conduct a usability test with eye tracking to compare guidance of visual attention by three types of images: graphic illustrations, digital photographs and modified digital photographs. During the test, other key measures like success rates and time on task were also measured. Subjective preferences for the three types of images were also evaluated.

Results indicated that the modified photographs performed better in guiding the visual attention of users to the relevant areas of the image than the other two image types. Though not statistically significant, the trend showed that task completion times for tasks with the modified photographs were shorter than those with the other image types (i.e., tasks with modified photographs were quicker than those with other image types). Subjective ratings indicated that participants preferred photographs and modified photographs to the existing graphical illustrations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Question-answering systems--Testing; Computer graphics--Design; Human-computer interaction; Eye--Movements; Visual perception; Attention

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type



Evelyn Rozanski

Advisor/Committee Member

Anne Haake

Advisor/Committee Member

Keith Karn


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at QA76.9.Q4 B34 2007


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