Developing practice with theory in HCI: Applying models of spatial cognition for the design of pictorial databases

M. W. Lansdale, S. A.R. Scrivener, A. Woodcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The design and development of large pictorial databases represents a considerable challenge to the design of effective interfaces and query mechanisms. This paper reviews a project concerned with the development of theories of spatial cognition and their application to the design of pictorial databases. The aim is to investigate the feasibility of developing query methods based upon visuo-spatial methods, and to consider the implications of this for design. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the joint enterprise of psychological experimentation and system development and to consider the impact upon each discipline of the shared aim of the project. Three main conclusions are drawn: (a) useful theories of spatial memory can be developed of general utility in the design of pictorial databases; (b) however, the analysis of tasks in which pictorial databases might be used reveals a complex picture in which the specificity of task domain and visual material is more likely to dictate issues of design than is any generic theory of visual cognition. In other words, the utility of visuo-spatial methods of database encoding and query cannot be taken for granted in pictorial databases; and finally (c) projects such as this, in which psychological knowledge is used as a motivation for design innovation, appear to represent high-risk, high-return strategies of design development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-799
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • Engineering(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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