Human-Computer Interaction: Communication, Cooperation, and Application Design

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview
information retrieval systems with some success ( Hancock-Beaulieu, 1992). Another approach is to provide a more explicit representation of the searchable information resources via graphical maps ( Card et al's 1991). The conclusion of the survey was that few systems have provided information searching support from both the query formulation and results presentation viewpoints. Another deficiency has been the ad hoc design of query languages and searching tools without reference to task models, principles of usability, or general theories of information retrieval. The survey also provided design exemplars as a source of ideas, particularly for browsing tools, and support the user's evolving search needs by relevance feedback ( Hancock-Beaulieu, 1992). The literature also yielded information for constructing a task model of information searching and deriving the following usability principles which were drawn from the task analysis, and performance criteria cited in the information science literature as well as general usability heuristics ( Nielsen, 1993):
Task-fit: design of information retrieval tools should be based on models of the users' task.
Compatibility with the user's language: ideally information retrieval should be mediated by natural language; however, the current state of the art in natural language understanding makes this impractical apart from restricted domains and sub-languages. However, this principle can be applied to the provision of restricted natural language, thesauri and appropriate keywords.
Proactive help for query formulation: query expression should be helped in a variety of ways; for instance, intelligent assistance for query repair and suggestion of query terms; retrieval tools should tolerate syntax errors, suggest strategies for query repair and help inexact queries by goodness of fit matching.
Help users locate appropriate information resources: the system should help users explore and choose the available information resources.
Maximise visibility of results: the user should be able to view retrieved results with minimal effort. Implementing this principle by presentation planning may save users work in controlling the system and allows easier comparison, scanning and analysis of datasets. Maximising visibility should reduce the burden on the user's working memory ( Nielsen 1993), but search times in complex displays may increase.
Adaptability of services: information searching depends on the users' experience, knowledge and configuration of searching resources. Information retrieval tools should therefore be configurable according to a user's profile of domain and device knowledge and the external system environment.

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