Skip to Main Content
Information retrieval has a long history of dealing with printed materials. More recent work has involved the development of experimental visual interfaces to support users' attempts to access appropriate documents. This research has matured to the point that usability studies and evaluation of approaches to information visualization are needed to guide further development. The reported studies examine the use of alternative document visualizations in tightly controlled settings. Five types of interface representations were defined, including ordered text, ordered icons, a table format, a x-y graph format and a novel spring based visualization. To assess the relative utility of the various interfaces, we have chosen to apply two kinds of measures: performance on information retrieval tasks and user preference rankings of the interfaces. The results show that performance is strikingly different across the range of interface types with the ordered icon list and text list producing the best results. Users' preferences however, indicated that the textual format was the least desirable, while both of the visualization methods, i.e., icon list and spring based visual, were preferred. We conclude that performance is more easily and accurately measured and that preferences of users can not be used alone to determine the utility of interfaces.
Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 1998. 1998 IEEE International Conference on (Volume:1 )
Date of Conference: 11-14 Oct 1998