A query method for search user interfaces focusing on user control: the benefits and limitations

Detta är en Master-uppsats från KTH/Skolan för datavetenskap och kommunikation (CSC)

Sammanfattning: Search User Interfaces (SUIs) are the gateway between a user with a task to complete and the tremendous amount of data accessible on the web. Designing SUIs is therefore essential to ensure web accessibility, internet neutrality and to enable easy navigation online. The trending query method users have come to expect is to be able to get results fast using simple keyword queries. Therefore this is the method that popular search engines, for example Google, Bing and Yahoo utilizes. As most user scenarios do not require much control by the users, the control and responsibility to find relevant results is generally left to the search engines. In this research project an attempt to find user scenarios where the users would benefit from getting the control back was made. A new query method for SUIs aimed at achieving this was investigated, given the name ‘tailored keyword search’ for the purposes of this research project. Hence, the research project aimed to find  user scenarios which might benefit from the tailored keyword search when querying a web search engine, and the possible benefits and limitations it might entail to them. The research project is based on a user study in the form of task-based interviews focused on the participants perceptions of the prototype, focusing on the usability criterias learnability and efficiency. The study found that the tailored keyword search does inflict a feeling of control to its users. Furthermore, the sense of control was found to aid internet accessibility by not forcing a navigation path upon the users. The users saw great opportunity in being able to clarify the importance of each keyword. The limitations entailed a much slower searching process compaired to the regular keyword search, and a steep learning curve.

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