In web based 3D experiences, where the world in observed from the first person perspective, which of the following two ways is better for looking around:

  1. When the mouse is moved, the camera is rotated in the same direction. See for example this demo. This is what FPS games do, although in FPS games the mouse pointer does not move on the screen (the pointer is not visible).

  2. When the mouse is moved, the model is rotated in the same direction. See for example this demo. This seems to be more common approach today.

The two approaches are exactly opposite and both are used today. Which one do you think is more intuitive for an average web user? (This is for a simple application, where the user is not supposed to spend time mastering the controls or configuring mode that is more suitable for his/her taste)

  • Anecdotal, but I work a lot in 3D environments and definitely prefer option 2. Look at home design apps like Home By Me.
    – kerr
    Apr 28, 2016 at 3:44
  • Option 2 with keyboard navigation plus
    – Dipak
    Apr 28, 2016 at 6:41
  • 1
    In the human factors literature, the principle you are asking about is response-effect compatibility. This article is relevant to your question. Apr 28, 2016 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Your question seems to be based on an assumption that you have to choose between the two.

If it was me, I'd give the user the option of how they'd like the navigation to work. This will empower them and either meet or exceed their expectations. Either way, the user experience will be enhanced as a result.


However, you will need to ensure that your selection mechanism is user-friendly as well.

I would ensure you have a real example of how the navigation works for each scenario. Use the same bit of 3D surroundings for both options so the user can try each and make a choice based on the two. Also, each of the options should prompt the user as to how the navigation works.

  • Users might not so easily see or understand the difference between the two, unless proper explained... Which makes choosing the control mode a rater complex user experience.
    – Rolf ツ
    Apr 27, 2016 at 21:25
  • Agreed. That was my intention, but I should have probably made that clearer in my answer. Will do that when I get a chance.
    – Monomeeth
    Apr 27, 2016 at 22:25
  • Such configuration option makes sense for an app that a user is supposed to use extensively (like for example web based 3d modeling tool). For short 3D experiences a user will likely not have a patience to go over an additional configuration step (and as @Rolf pointed out it is difficult to explain the difference without trying to navigate). Even when configuration is available, it is good to have a default that works well for most users.
    – Jan Wrobel
    Apr 28, 2016 at 9:18

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