IA - Academic Approaches

  April 03, 2003  

Breadcrumb Navigation: An Exploratory Study of Usage

From Usability News, "In an attempt to better understand how, when, or even if, users use breadcrumb navigation in a real-time online environment, we conducted an exploratory study to determine if participants use breadcrumbs when given a list of items to find on a website. In addition, we were interested in monitoring what other navigational methods they use to access information or e-commerce items (i.e., Back button, navigation bars, search)." Read the study...

Posted by seralat at 08:02 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
Improving WEB Page Revisitation: Analysis, Design and Evaluation

"We report our findings across five categories of revisitation research: characterisations of user behaviour; system models of navigation and their impact on the user’s understanding; interface methods for increasing the efficiency of the Back button; alternative system models for navigation; and alternative methods for presenting web navigation histories. The behaviour characterisation shows that revisitation is a dominant activity, with an average of four out of five page visits being to previously seen pages. It also shows that the Back button is heavily used, but poorly understood. Three interface strategies for improving web page revisitation are described." Read the study...

Posted by seralat at 07:39 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
The Impact of Paging vs. Scrolling on Reading Online Text Passages

From Usabilty News, "[i]n this study, we examined the use of paging vs. scrolling in reading passages, including participants' reading comprehension in paging and scrolling conditions. Dyson and Kipping (1998) found that participants read through paged documents faster than scrolled documents, but showed no differences in reading comprehension." Read the study...

Posted by seralat at 07:28 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  February 02, 2003  

How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility?

From the abstract at Consumer WebWatch, "[t]he data showed that the average consumer paid far more attention to the superficial aspects of a site, such as visual cues, than to its content. For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes." The study authors are B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., Cathy Soohoo, and David Danielsen of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 10:16 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  January 20, 2003  

The Politics of Interaction Design: Globalization, Cognition, and Culture

In this May 2002 research article by Sarah Berry-Flint, she concludes, "creative participation by endusers of technology is often seen as a threat by developers rather than a force to be designed for. The best hope for the future of usable technology, however, is the rejection of top-down, scientific design theory and the recognition of culturally-situated and creative end-users as the source of real knowledge about how to make interactive media work." Read the paper...(PDF document)

Posted by seralat at 11:05 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  October 26, 2002  

Transitional Volatility in Web Navigation: Usability Metrics and User Behavior

David Danielson's Master's thesis explores the nature of the navigation in an online environment, with particular emphasis on the moment of transition from one screen to another.

"This thesis is composed of three main parts. Part I will provide a background discussion of intra-site Web navigation. In it, we will consider the major players in the Web navigation process: the hyperlink, navigational mechanism, navigational scheme, page, site, task, and user.... Part II will discuss ways of measuring and assessing the complex interaction between user, task, and Web site, beginning with an overview of the research approach used in this thesis, namely click-stream analysis. We will pay special attention to a user’s level of disorientation, her mental models of the site and of her navigation history, and to assessing a navigation session in terms of transitional volatility, habituation, and predictability.... Part III will present and discuss an empirical study of the effects of transitional volatility, based upon a proposed model of disorientation resulting from page-to-page transitions. The study will investigate influences on user behavior, disorientation, and perceptions of a Web site." Read the thesis...

In addition, David has provided an excellent academic reference reading list for those interested in issues related to web navigation. See the reading list...

Posted by seralat at 09:25 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
Ranganathan for IAs

If you're an IA, and especially if you have anything to do with creating sophisticated categorization or taxonomy systems, you should know something about S.R. Ranganathan and his information classification systems and theories. Mike Steckel's article in Boxes and Arrows is probably the best intro for IAs to Ranganathan I think I've read anywhere. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 08:16 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  September 11, 2002  

Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility

"How can you boost your web site's credibility? We have compiled 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a web site. These guidelines are based on three years of research that included over 4,500 people." The guidelines are each linked to a set of research results, some but not all of which is available online. See the Guidelines...

The Guidelines are:

  1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
  2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
  3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
  4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
  5. Make it easy to contact you.
  6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
  7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful.
  8. Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
  9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
  10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
Posted by seralat at 05:52 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  July 26, 2002  

Reading Online News: A Comparison of Three Presentation Formats

"Accordingly, this study addressed the question of how information should be presented within a news-style web page. For example, should all the information related to a single article be presented on one page, or should the newsletter contain a page that lists only the link titles that relate to each specific article, and which is presented on another page? Moreover, if the newsletter presents initial information in the form of link titles, should they present supplementary information that provides a general overview of the entire article, along with the link title?" From an article by Ryan Baker, Michael Bernard, & Shannon Riley in Usability News, a project of Wichita State's Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL). Read the article... [via Webword]

Posted by seralat at 12:52 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
Top Ten Mistakes of Shopping Cart Design

"However, the process before buying – shopping, browsing, and working with the shopping cart – is in many ways more critical to a site’s success. Users frustrated with the online shopping will never even get to the point of online buying. In our usability studies, we have observed many shopping features that impact user performance and satisfaction. The following is a list of Top Ten Mistakes of Shopping Cart Design that we have compiled." From an article by Barbara S. Chaparro in Usability News, a project of Wichita State's Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL). Read the article... [via Webword]

Posted by seralat at 12:48 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, IA - Commerce
Fortune 500 Revisited: Current Trends in Sitemap Design

"In our first issue of Usability News, we reported a study that surveyed the top Fortune 500 companies’ web sites for the use of sitemaps (Bernard, 1999a). This study found that nearly half (46%) of the web sites did not have a sitemap of any kind. Of the half that did have a sitemap, 89% used a hierarchical textual representation and 11% displayed a graphical depiction of the site. Now that a few years have passed, we thought it might be interesting to review those sites again (or rather the current list of Fortune 500 companies) and see how things have changed." From an article by Mark C. Russell in Usability News, a project of Wichita State's Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL). Read the article... [via Webword]

Posted by seralat at 12:42 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
Usability News (Wichita State)

Usability News is a project of Wichita State's Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL). You'll find a wealth of academic research on usability topics, many of which have direct application to IA practice. Visit Usability News...

Posted by seralat at 12:36 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Usability
Determining Cognitive Predictors of User Performance within Complex User Interfaces

"This study sought to assess the full extent of intellectual functioning across participants by administering the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), along with administering a mirror-tracing task to assess their perceptual-motor skills. The participants’ scores on the individual factors of intelligence and perceptual-motor skills were then examined in relation to their search performance on a complex website interface." From an article by Michael L. Bernard, Chris Hamblin, and Brett Scofield in Usability News, a project of Wichita State's Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL). Read the article... [via Webword]

Posted by seralat at 12:33 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Usability
Understanding how users view application performance

"Obviously, no single performance rule covers all situations. But we believe 10 seconds is the upper limit for user satisfaction, and at 40 seconds, performance becomes intolerable. These rules of thumb can be used as a starting point when evaluating Web application performance." From an article by Peter Sevcik in the July issue of Business Communications Review, reprinted in the Comdex Newsletter. Read the article... [Via a posting by Annabelle Hoffman on the CHI-Web mailing list]

Posted by seralat at 10:53 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Interface Design & Layout

  July 17, 2002  

Beyond Usability:Process, Outcome and Affect in human computer interactions

"Users respond to interface 'beauty', and tend to relate usability to aesthetics in a fairly predictable fashion. Furthermore, users do not predict their own performance (process and outcome) accurately, especially at the early stages of use with a new interface. It is clear therefore from our studies of users that evaluations based on single experiences with technology do not provide stable estimates of long-term (or even medium-term) usability." From Andrew Dillon, of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UT Austin. Read the paper...

Posted by seralat at 02:45 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Interface Design & Layout, Usability

  June 15, 2002  

When Kids Use the Web: A Naturalistic Comparison of Children's Navigation Behavior and Subjective Preferences on Two WWW Sites

"This paper reports the results of scavenger-hunt usability tests conducted with 16 adolescent children (8 males and 8 females) in two age groups (12 years old and 16 years old), using two general-interest topical Web sites. The tests yield comparison data regarding both search performance and self-reported subjective preferences. The sole independent variable affecting search performance was the age of the subject, from which the authors conclude that children's domain knowledge may be a key component of their ability to retrieve information successfully from Web-based systems. Subjective preferences of children are systematically compared to previously reported preference data for adults who tested the same topical Web sites. Based on these data, as well as on insights based on subjects' verbal protocols, conclusions regarding both commonalities and differences in Web usability requirements between adults and children are suggested." By Terry Sullivan, Cathleen Norris, and Martha Peet—of the University of North Texas—and Elliot Soloway of the University of Michigan. Read the study...

Posted by seralat at 10:12 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Usability
Towards a Framework of Interaction and Experience As It Relates to Product Design: 1999 UPA Conference Report

From Jodi Forlizzi, "In particular, we wanted to discuss 1) How can and should we talk about experience? What do we mean by experience? What are the types of experiences that users might want to have? And 2) What is the connection between product design attributes and these experiences?" Read about the workshop...

Posted by seralat at 10:06 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
Text Display Readability Work

An excellent set of academic research papers on the subject of fonts and screen readability by Dr. Lauren Scharff of the Department of Psychology at Stephen F. Austin State University and Al Ahumada from NASA-Ames. See the resources...

Posted by seralat at 09:38 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Interface Design & Layout, Usability
Tabular and Textual Methods for Selecting Objects from a Group

""The accurate formulation of boolean expressions is a notorious problem in programming languages and database query tools. This paper studies the ways that untrained users naturally express and interpret queries, revealing some of the underlying reasons why this task is so difficult. Among the study's findings are: people interpret the word AND to mean either conjunction or disjunction depending on context, the scope to which they attribute the word NOT depends on whether the subsequent operator is AND or OR, and they often ignore parenthesis. Therefore, relying on these words and symbols for query formulation will result in poor usability. A tabular query form is proposed that avoids the need to name the operators, provides a clear distinction between conjunction and disjunction, and makes grouping more explicit. Comparing the tabular language with textual boolean expressions, the study finds that untrained users perform better when they express their queries in the tabular language, and about equally well when interpreting queries written in either language. We conclude that systems may benefit by adopting a tabular notation for query formulation." From the abstract to J.F. Pane and B.A. Myers, "Tabular and Textual Methods for Selecting Objects from a Group," Proceedings of VL 2000: IEEE International Symposium on Visual Languages, Seattle, WA: IEEE Computer Society, September 10-13 2000, pp. 157-164. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 09:29 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Search and Searching
Metadata Creation--Down and Dirty

An introduction to the subject by James L. Weinheimer of Princeton University. "Traditional metadata creation has been practiced for millennia under various names and its techniques have changed tremendously. In its basics however, it has always remained the same. Its fundamental purpose is: to bring similar items together. The idea of bringing similar items together ensures that a user does not have to look in dozens--or hundreds-- of different places for the same thing. These items can be similar in all sorts of ways according to the needs of the collection: it may be items by same author, or items using the same methodology, the same colors, or anything at all." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 09:23 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches, Metadata, XML
In Weird Math of Choices, 6 Choices Can Beat 600

From a 9 January 2001 NY Times article by Erica Goode, "In a series of studies, Dr. Sheena S. Iyengar, an assistant professor at Columbia's business school, and Dr. Mark R. Lepper, chairman of Stanford's psychology department, have demonstrated that providing too many options — particularly when the differences between them are small — can make people feel overwhelmed and overloaded, and as a result, less likely to buy or pursue any of the options available." Read the article... (free registration required)

Posted by seralat at 09:16 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches
Depth vs Breadth in the Arrangement of Web Links

This study by University of Maryland students Panayiotis Zaphiris and
Lianaeli Mtei is a few years old, but still interesting. "The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of depth and breadth of web site structure on the user response time. The variables evaluated were five different web page linking strategies with varying depth and breadth. The results indicated that response time increased as the depth of the web site structure increased. This shows that, for a database with a large amount of scatted information like the internet, the links to the various parts of the database should be collected thoughtfully, arranged and presented simultaneously to prevent back and forth searching, since the latter is more complex and results in more errors." Read the study...

Posted by seralat at 08:37 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  June 14, 2002  

3.14159, 42, and 7±2: Three Numbers That (Should) Have Nothing To Do With User Interface Design

An August 2000 rebuttal to the 7±2 navigation argument by Denny LeCompte in Internetworking, an ITG publication. "The fame of Miller's number would be a wonderful thing if not for a couple of problems. First, at least in private settings, the magical number is often invoked inappropriately. For example, an individual may claim that a web page should have no more than 7±2 links on it. As will be discussed in more detail, nothing Miller said lends support to such a statement. Second, even when it is cited correctly, Miller's work is discussed as if the scientific understanding of short-term memory had not advanced at all in the last half century. In fact, an analysis of Miller's original paper and of subsequent scientific research suggests that 7±2 is no more relevant to user interface design than is Douglas Adams' facetious 42." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 11:16 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches

  June 12, 2002  

Web Page Design: Implications of Memory, Structure and Scent for Information Retrieval

From the abstract of this paper presented at CHI 98 by Kevin Larson and Mary Czerwinski of Microsoft, "Much is known about depth and breadth tradeoff issues in graphical user interface menu design. We describe an experiment to see if large breadth and decreased depth is preferable, both subjectively and via performance data, while attempting to design for optimal scent throughout different structures of a website. A study is reported which modified previous procedures for investigating depth/breadth tradeoffs in content design for the web. Results showed that, while increased depth did harm search performance on the web, a medium condition of depth and breadth outperformed the broadest, shallow web structure overall. " Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 06:00 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Academic Approaches