The availability of social tags has greatly enhanced access to information.
Tag clouds have emerged as a new “social” way to find
and visualize information, providing both one-click access to information
and a snapshot of the “aboutness” of a tagged collection.
A range of research projects explored and compared different tag
artifacts for information access ranging from regular tag clouds to
tag hierarchies. At the same time, there is a lack of user studies that
compare the effectiveness of different types of tag-based browsing
interfaces from the users point of view. This paper contributes to
the research on tag-based information access by presenting a controlled
user study that compared three types of tag-based interfaces
on two recognized types of search tasks – lookup and exploratory
search. Our results demonstrate that tag-based browsing interfaces
significantly outperform traditional search interfaces in both performance
and user satisfaction. At the same time, the differences
between the two types of tag-based browsing interfaces explored in
our study are not as clear.