Paper: Active & Passive Utility of Search User Interface Features (2016)

In 2015, I did an internship at the Mixed Reality Lab of the University of Nottingham. While there, I conducted a user study, focused on discerning search stages in users’ complex searches. 26 participants had to carry out 3 distinct tasks, representing pre-focus, focus formulation and post-focus stages (as defined by Vakkari). We captured active and passive utility of search user interface (SUI) features by means of click and mouse movement logs, as well as eye tracking. Additionally, pre- and post-surveys were conducted, to capture perceived utility of search interface features.

The first conclusion was that some SUI features are used mainly in an active way (for instance the query box and result list), while other features are also used passively (for instance query histories). Our second conclusion was that some features which are useful in the exploratory stages of a task (e.g. query suggestions) lose their value over time due to user’s evolving understanding. Personalizable features, on the other hand, increase in value during a user’s information journey. Thus, our findings pointed towards the dynamic utility of SUI features during complex tasks, which has implications for the design of future search interfaces for complex and learning tasks. Awards: best paper award honorable mention.

Read and cite the paper:
Previous work (Best Presentation Award IIiX 2014):
Related materials:

View CHIIR 2016 conference presentation for this paper
View other publications on search stages and the search process


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