ViCRAM: Visual Complexity Rankings and Accessibility Metrics

Reducing visual complexity on the Web

Project summary

The World Wide Web (Web) has become the means of distribution and use of information by individuals around the world. Most Web pages focus on visual presentation to implicitly help users understand and interact with the content. When sighted users reach a Web page, they can scan the page and get a comprehension of it in an average of 5 seconds. This view helps them to decide if the page is relevant to their task and move towards the part of the page that interests them. On the other hand, if visually impaired users want to get an idea of how the page looks they have to listen to the entire page being read from the top left corner of the screen to the bottom right. This is because assistive technologies, such as screen readers, render the source code and do not understand what they read. In addition, the source code is not always accessible. This happens when designers do not always follow the correct guidelines for accessibility and use different coding conventions to represent page elements such as headings and links.

Completion information

Final report summary:


Completion date: 20120101
Final report: N/A

Further information

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Funded by: The University of Manchester

This project is complete

Expanded details

ViCRAM stands for Visual Complexity Rankings and Accessibility Metrics and is a project that aims to contribute for the improvement of accessible interface design by defining a framework that describes visually complex Web pages. We try to relate the visual presentation and structure of a Web page with a sighted user’s interaction and browsing behaviour. The framework will be used for both giving feedback on the visual clutter of a page and as guidelines for transcoding a page to result in a simpler and more accessible one.

ViCRAM is a project that will contribute for the improvement of accessible interface design. We study sighted users’s behaviour and eye movement while interacting with a Web page to elicit their implicit knowledge of visual perception. A relationship can then be distinguished between Web page visual complexity and sighted users’s cognition. The project’s objective is to create a framework that will be used to identify Web page visual complexity for two purposes: to give feedback to the user regarding the presentation of the page; and to help reduce the visual clutter of the page by using it as a guide for the Web page transcoding process.

Research goals

ViCRAM aims to relate the user’s implicit understanding of a visually complex Web page with its layout. In this way, Web page designs can be associated with a common Web behaviour and visual complexity that will give further insight into accessible Web page design. In order to achieve this we will answer three important questions:

What is a visually complex Web page?

A variety of usability and accessibility studies show that complicated Web page structure depends on the page composition and layout. During our research we will identify how Web page elements, such as links, text, images etc., interact with each other to produce a visually complex page, using knowledge elicitation methodologies and users’s eye movement behaviour to learn more about human visual perception.

How does a sighted user interact on a Web page?

Sighted users’s Web behaviour using eye movement tracking methods can give better perception of page presentation. This is because users’s glancing habits can give important information on where they look first when they reach a Web page, where they pay more attention and for how long they concentrate on specific parts of the page.

What is the relationship between sighted user’s Web page interaction and visual complexity?

Our objective is to use the above feedback to distinguish a relationship between visually complex Web pages and visual attention. In this way, we will develop a framework to distinguish the visual complexity of a Web page and be used as a guide for transcoding a page into a less visually complex one.

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