IA Summit 09 - User Interfaces with Metasearch Capabilities
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IA Summit 09 - User Interfaces with Metasearch Capabilities

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Slides from the presentation at the 2009 IA Summit in Memphis, TN.

Slides from the presentation at the 2009 IA Summit in Memphis, TN.

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  • One might think that search interfaces are pretty cut and dry. That we have been designing for search long enough that the best practices are pretty well known. When in doubt, make it like Google and your users will know what to do. But one would be wrong in thinking that because search functionality and features continue to evolve and so the UI also needs to evolve. One of these new trends in search has been metasearch.

IA Summit 09 - User Interfaces with Metasearch Capabilities IA Summit 09 - User Interfaces with Metasearch Capabilities Presentation Transcript

  • User Interface Issues with Metasearch IA Summit March 21, 2009
  • What is metasearch?
    • AKA “federated search”
    • “… simultaneous search of multiple online databases or web resources…” (Wikipedia)
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Recent Studies
      • 2 government agencies
      • Library of Congress (LOC)
      • Various historical databases, the LOC website, and the LOC card catalog
      • National Institutes of Health Library (NIHL)
      • Various medical research databases
      • 1 professional organization
      • American Chemical Society (ACS)
      • Various chemistry journals, articles, and the ACS website
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Methodologies
      • Similarities:
        • One-on-one usability test
        • User-defined and scenario-based tasks
      • Differences:
        • LOC – 20 participants, general public, prototype
        • NIHL – 14 participants, NIH employees & contractors, 3 metasearch interfaces – 1 prototype and 2 functional sites
        • ACS – 10 participants, chemistry professionals, functional site
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Library of Congress Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • NIH Library Site 1 Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • NIH Library Site 2 (Science.gov) Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • NIH Library Site 3 (Scitopia.org) Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • American Chemical Society Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Results
      • Some metasearch-specific results and some general search interface results
      • Some commonalities and some differences
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Metasearch takes time Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009 Waiting for a complete display of results is better than a quick response that displays only a partial set of results. -But be sure to justify to the user why it is taking a long time.
      • Use a progress indicator to show the user that a search is still ongoing.
  • Advanced Search within metasearch
    • Advanced Search is an important and desirable feature. Especially for sophisticated searchers.
    • Technical limitations:
      • Different metadata is used in each of the different sources
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Offer an Advanced Search, even if only for individual sources. Make sure entry fields are intuitive.
    These entry fields are not intuitive.
  • Do users care about the source of their results?
    • Users are more concerned with obtaining the answers that they need than the source of those answers (among the sources offered).
      • Exception: Some sophisticated searchers (e.g., frequent medical researchers at NIH) will want to choose what sources are included in the search.
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Show users which sources will be searched by default and provide an option for them to modify the selection according to their preferences.
  • Interacting with results
    • Users like to be able to interact with their search results.
      • Searching within the results
      • Removing or adding sources to the search
      • Applying filters to the results
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Give users control by providing options to narrow or expand the results in various ways.
  • Metasearch Filters Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009 Bad Good
    • How to offer faceted browsing of results
    • Functionality:
      • Include Topic, Author, and Date filters for each set of results
      • Allow users to remove a filter once it is selected
      • Allow users to select from more than one category (i.e., topic and date)
  • Metasearch Filters (cont.) Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009 Bad Good
      • Use clear navigation icons and visually defined hierarchies in filters.
    • How to display:
      • Show a clear hierarchy
      • Use consistent list icons at each level
      • Avoid use of ellipsis in topic labels
      • Avoid overuse of blue hyperlink text
  • General search interface findings
    • SEARCH TERMS
      • Users will:
        • Use descriptive search terms (“books about” or a specific journal name)
        • Misspell search terms
        • Use Boolean logic
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Metasearch features should support common user inputs such as descriptive words and Boolean logic.
  • General search interface findings
    • SEARCH TERMS
      • Users want (and expect):
        • A feature to check their spelling
        • A feature to support Boolean logic
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • If Google does it, users expect it from you, too.
  • General search interface findings
    • RESULTS DISPLAY
      • Users will:
        • Assume that the “featured links” at the top of results list are advertisements and will skip over them
        • Skim results and skip items that don’t immediately look relevant
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Users want:
        • Text extracts included for every result
        • Highlighted keywords
        • Results ranked by relevancy
  • Where differences occur
    • UNSOPHISTICATED SEARCHERS VS. SOPHISTICATED SEARCHERS
      • Unsophisticated searchers care about:
        • Quickly locating useful results
      • Sophisticated searchers care about:
        • What sources are being searched
        • Advanced Search options (because they’re used to using them)
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Best practices for any search
      • Incorporate spell check and a thesaurus
      • Support Boolean logic
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Include text extracts for all results
      • Highlight keywords in titles and text extracts
  • Best practices for metasearch
      • Display a progress indicator as results are being populated
      • Offer Advanced Search
      • Clearly display hierarchy in filters
      • Show sources that are being searched and allow users to be modify them
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
      • Consider the sophistication of your various audience groups when designing a search interface and as always, conduct user testing throughout the design process.
  • Future Research
      • Personalization (i.e., save search terms, save results, export results)
      • RSS feeds of new content related to a search
      • Geo-proximity as a sorting option
      • How to search multimedia databases
      • How long users are willing to wait for results
      • The best way to implement Advanced Search
    Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009
  • Questions? Dana Douglas, Dick Horst, Cory Lebson / User Interface Issues with Metasearch / IA Summit 2009 UserWorks, Inc. 1738 Elton Rd Suite 138 Silver Spring, MD 20903 301-431-0500 www.userworks.com