Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Comber, T & Maltby, JR 1997, 'Layout complexity: does it measure usability?', in S Howard, J Hammond & G Lindgaard (eds), Human-computer interaction: Interact '97, International Conference on Human-computer Interaction, Sydney, NSW , 14-18 July, Chapman Hall, London, pp. 623-626.


This research investigates the validity of the layout complexity metric to GUI screen design. This metric offers a simple method to gauge the complexity of the visual design of a computer screen by classifying screen objects into classes based on common dimensions and positions. However, though it has been used by other interface researchers, it is not clear that it is a valid metric for GUIs. Initial work suggests that users prefer more complex layouts rather than the simple ones suggested by guidelines. The pilot study showed that screens midway between complex and simple were the most usable. The next experiment is at the data collection stage. It uses four screens differing in complexity and a Latin-squares design to avoid experimental bias and nuisance variables. Twenty-four human participants are randomly assigned to blocks. The final experiment will attempt to gain a wider range of users with a more complex task.