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

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Table 1: Guidelines for the design of keyword search systems
Guideline
1 A search system should support the four commonly used search strategies
without making the user change pages or screens. These strategies are:
• Searching with one word
• Searching with two or more words at once
• Presenting an overview of the structure and contents of the database
(especially novices)
• Using wildcards (especially experts), e.g. interpreting a given word automatically as the beginning of a keyword
2 A search system should check for spelling errors or provide an option for
including similar sounding words (search for homonyms)
3 A search system for the internet should provide an option for including synonyms taken from a thesaurus. The system should show the used synonyms.
4 The boolean operator AND should always be the default setting. The system
should communicate this setting to the user in plain English descriptions of the
operator's effect (e.g. ,,all the words" for AND).
5 A search system can do both without the option to combine different boolean
operators and a NOT-operator. Particularly the NOT-operator is often used as a
substitute for effective filtering functionality when a user has to reformulate a
query.
The final design of the search system conforms to the proposed guidelines, except for the recommendation concerning the overview (Guideline 1). It was given its own section. Instead of a spell checking option, an operator for searching similar sounding words (phonetic matching) was included.These exceptions and additional features emerged from technical constraints, non-negotiable requirements and results from the usability test of an earlier version.Additional features are:
Non-default and advanced operators, such as ,,exact phrase and its synonyms", are hidden by using a drop down list in order to reduce the ,,first- sight" complexity of the interface (see figure 1, number 1).
The user has to decide whether she wants to search all material (full text option) or to put a scope on the header/textual description of the documents (see figure 1, number 2). With the scope selected, the system's response time will be significantly reduced.

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