Eye-tracking comparison of two road atlases
Keywords: road maps, atlases, user study, eye-tracking, cartographic style
Abstract. The usage of road atlases is experiencing a decline due to the rise in popularity of modern GPS navigational systems. However, road atlases are still utilised by some individuals, both in combination with mobile navigation and separately when navigating during the trip. Therefore, road atlases continue to be published. They are regularly updated, and they do gradually change, such as when the map symbology changes or when the creation of maps takes new technological possibilities into account. The changes in map symbology are the main essence of the presented paper. Based on the assumption presented by an expert (head of the largest cartographic publishing house in the Czech Republic) during an expert discussion that the 20-year-old road atlas is easier to read and that the required information was more quickly accessible in the old atlas than in the new atlas, a scientific experiment was designed and performed. Within the comparison of the "old" and "new" atlases, three hypotheses were established: (1) Accuracy of responses will be higher for the "old" atlas, (2) Time for task completion will be lower for the "old" atlas, and (3) Orientation in the maps from the "old" atlas will be easier. The eye-tracking testing performed did not confirm the first hypothesis, but the statistics confirmed the second and third hypotheses. The reasons for the different results for the "old" and "new" atlases were sometimes obvious (change in the graphic variables of a particular map symbol). Still, other times the causes were not completely clear. All of the experimental results were provided to the publishing house for further use in practice.