Users' schemata of hypermedia: What is so 'spatial' about a website?

J. Shawn Farris, Keith S. Jones, Peter D. Elgin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study examined users' schemata of hypermedia. It is frequently assumed that users' schemata contain spatial information about how the pages of a website are interconnected. However, it is not clear how these schemata could contain such information when none is presented to the user while he/she is exploring the website. Unfortunately, there has been little research addressing this assumption. Toward that end, the reported study examined the mental representations (i.e. schemata) acquired when using hypermedia by systematically varying the interconnections within a website while holding the information that the website contained constant. Analyses of 40 participants' drawings of the website's organization indicate that drawings largely reflected conceptual (i.e. semantic) relationships, and not the true nature of the website's interconnections. In light of this research, it is suggested that we reevaluate the conjecture that hypermedia is mentally represented in ways similar to the physical world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-502
Number of pages16
JournalInteracting with Computers
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Connection-structure
  • Hypermedia
  • Mental representation
  • Schema
  • Spatial


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