Effects of target expansion on selection performance in older computer users

Faustina Hwang*, Nic Hollinworth, Nitin Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Point and click interactions using a mouse are an integral part of computer use for current desktop systems. Compared with younger users though, older adults experience greater difficulties performing cursor positioning tasks, and this can present limitations to using a computer easily and effectively. Target expansion is a technique for improving pointing performance where the target grows dynamically as the cursor approaches. This has the advantage that targets conserve screen real estate in their unexpanded state, yet can still provide the benefits of a larger area to click on. This article presents two studies of target expansion with older and younger participants, involving multidirectional point-select tasks with a computer mouse. Study 1 compares static versus expanding targets, and Study 2 compares static targets with three alternative techniques for expansion. Results show that expansion can improve times by up to 14%, and reduce error rates by up to 50%. Additionally, expanding targets are beneficial even when the expansion happens late in the movement, that is, after the cursor has reached the expanded target area or even after it has reached the original target area. The participants' subjective feedback on the target expansion are generally favorable, and this lends further support for the technique.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Computer mouse
  • Expanding targets
  • Expansion
  • Older adults
  • Point and click
  • Target selection


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