William S. Albert

Senior User Interface Researcher, Lycos, Inc.

400-2 Totten Pond Road
Waltham, MA 02451
Tel: 781-370-2868
Email: walbert@lycos-inc.com

Updated: June 27, 2000

Research Interests: Web Usability and Navigation in Virtual Environments

My primary research interests lie in the area of web-site usability and navigation in virtual environments. Specifically, I am interested in the following research topics:

1. Web Usability: I am interested in how individuals learn to navigate the web, factors which influence the credibility of a web site, using traffic analysis to examine usability issues, and analyzing eye-movement patterns on the web as a potential measure of visual complexity. I have worked on a wide variety of studies, such as search and navigation, E-commerce, personalization, and registration processes. I am especially interested in how users view web pages in the first few seconds.

2. Navigation in Virtual Environments: I have done some research on various factors which influence navigation and wayfinding in virtual environments. I have examined factors such as attention, landmarks, frames of reference, and changes in speed, which all infleunce to a greater or lesser extent the ability to find your way through a virtual (and real) environment. I have also examined how various in-vehicle navigation system interfaces influences the ability to navigate in real environments.

Brief Biography

Currently I am a Senior User Interface Researcher at Lycos. I have been at Lycos since May, 1999. At Lycos I am conducting research in human-computer interaction. I have applied my research to a wide variety of projects at Lycos, such as E-commerce, personalization, and traffic analysis. Prior to joining Lycos I was a Post-Doc at Cambridge Basic Research (CBR) from June 1997 - April 1999. At CBR I was involved in research centered around in-vehicle navigation systems and spatial learning. I finished by Ph.D. in Spring of 1997 in Geography at Boston University working with Suchi Gopal. My dissertation was on the role of attention in spatial learning. In Fall, 1996 I was a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Center for Geographic Information & Analysis (NCGIA) in Santa Barbara, California. I worked with Reg Golledge of the Geography Department. I received by B.A. and M.A. in Geography at the University of Washington in Seattle working with Tim Nyerges specializing in GIS and transportation planning. Prior to coming to Boston in 1993, I worked as a Transit Planner in Seattle for several years. I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Some Links to Research in Web Usability and Spatial Cognition

Webcredibility.org Interesting research on factors which influence the credibility of web sites coming out of the Stanford Persuasive Technologies Lab.

The Advanced Eye Interpretation Project at Stanford is doing some interesting work on how individuals scan web sites.

Microsoft Usability research group with links to a lot of their technical reports

Microsoft Research is doing research on how individuals are able to navigate through large information spaces. They are experimenting with some interesting new UI's.

Research Unit in Spatial Cognition at UC Santa Barbara has been doing ground breaking research on how non-sighted individuals learn to navigate. They have also done work on virtual environments as well.

Virtual Eye Tracking Lab at Clemson

Banner Blindness: Web Searchers Often Miss "Obvious" Links from Sandia National Labs and the Internet Technical Group.

Selected Publications

Albert, W. S., & Thornton, I. M. (In Review) Traveling through space and time: How changes in speed affect navigation through a virtual route. Journal of Environmental Psychology. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Albert, W.S., & Liu, A. (In Press). Visual attention and the use of 2-D and 3-D dynamic map displays. To appear in Vision in Vehicles 8, Ed. A.G. Gale, Oxford Press, London.

Albert, W.S., Rensink, R.A., Beusmans, J.B. (1999). Learning relative directions between landmarks in a desktop virtual environment. Spatial Cognition and Computation, 1(2), 131-144.

Albert, W.S., Reinitz, M.T., Beusmans, J.B., & Gopal, S. (1999). The role of attention in spatial learning during simulated route navigation. Environment & Planning A, 31, 1459-1472.

Albert, W.S., & Golledge, R.G. (1999). Spatial cognitive abilities in the use of GIS: The map overlay operation. Transactions in GIS, 3(1), 6-20.

Albert, W.S. (1999). The Effects of Turn Instruction on Memory for Landmarks During Route Learning. Cambridge Basic Research Technical Report 99-1.

Albert, W.S. & Thornton, I.M. (1999). Traveling through Space and Time: Changes in Speed Do Not Affect Route Learning in a Virtual Environment. Cambridge Basic Research Technical Report 99-6.

Albert, W.S. (1997). The role of spatial abilities in the acquisition and representation of geographic space. In Geographic Information Research: Bridging the Atlantic. Eds: M. Craglia and H. Couclelis, London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 320-332.

Woodcock, C.E., Gopal, S., and W. Albert (1996). Evaluation of the potential for providing secondary labels in vegetation maps, Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 62(4), 393-399.