MIT software measures clutter

Web design purists who favor simplistic pages like can take heart.

Web design purists who favor simplistic pages like can take heart. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed software that can measure the clutter of a page or map, and potentially point designers in a direction that's less eye-crossing.

Ruth Rosenholtz, principal research scientist in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), and her colleagues developed a mathematical model of what makes an object harder or easier to see in visual display. That model incorporates measures of an object's color, contrast and position on the page. The team then used it to develop a tool to gauge visual clutter, according to a paper published this month in the Journal of Vision.

The software can be downloaded for free on the Web.

"We lack a clear understanding of what clutter is, what features, attributes and factors are relevant, why it presents a problem and how to identify it," Rosenholtz, lead author of the paper, said in a statement.

Her research was partially funded by the National Science Foundation.


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