An empirical comparison of the usability for novice and expert searchers of a textual and a graphic interface to an art-resource database


  • Andrew Dillon School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University
  • Min Song School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University


The present paper reports an experimental test of a prototype graphic and textual search interface for a university database on art-resource works. Novice and expert searchers were tested on both interfaces with performance assessed in terms of search speed and accuracy. Verbal protocols and navigation strategies were also examined. Experts performed significantly faster than novices though both user groups performed slightly (but not significantly) faster with the graphical interface. Furthermore, the graphical interface significantly reduced navigation effort. While there were no significant task accuracy differences, novices failed to complete more searches with the textual interface. Implications of these results for search interfaces to digital resources are briefly discussed.


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