Although the underlying mechanism is not well understood, there is considerable evidence that the
constellation of cognitive factors known as ‘spatial aptitude’ influences users’ performance in information spaces.
Evidence of the effect in the computer science literature is contradictory: some studies show that techniques, which
support users with lower aptitude, retard performance by those with higher aptitude. We have investigated the effect of the
visualization subfactor in a real-world navigation task using location menu breadcrumbs and Dillon’s IMRD task.
We compared the navigational styles and success rates in an answer seeking task using both standard and menu
breadcrumbs in a large website. The higher aptitude group was significantly more efficient and used the Back button less
than the lower aptitude group.
We discuss implications for explaining why spatial aptitude affects success with hypertext, the potential for practical
application, and ongoing follow-up work.