Point Space and Interface: A Holistic Approach to Search Result Visualisation

Author: Kenneth Ross Fredrind Treharne

Treharne, Kenneth Ross Fredrind, 2014 Point Space and Interface: A Holistic Approach to Search Result Visualisation, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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The research presented in this dissertation centres on the search user interface. The search user interface is the graphical user interface between where a human searcher interacts with a set of search results that a search engine serves in response to a request by the searcher. We are accustomed to linear, ranked-list interfaces that support information search across pages upon pages of search results. However, whilst ranked-list interfaces have a number of useful and usable characteristics - that for the most part, have served our search activities well - some search is not well supported by such interfaces. Future designers should focus efforts on provisioning an appropriate level of information in appropriate forms to searchers. Three human-based experiments are proposed and reported; each experiment tackles a different aspect of information display. Two experiments investigate ways that information can be presented in graphical form in an information visualisation tradition. In contrast, a third experiment investigates interface configuration with the intention to optimise the way textual information is presented to the user. Together, the results form a picture of where future search interface design should move. By nature of the textual documents we search for, our interfaces must provision textual cues to the searcher. However and where possible, attributes of and relationships between documents should be expressed in graphical and spatial forms to facilitate quick and effortless comparison between documents. Search user interfaces connect digital and cognitive worlds. It is increasingly apparent that building such interfaces necessitates a concerted, interdisciplinary effort of research and development. Accordingly, future search tools will be reliant on both an understanding of the human perceptual-cognitive system, as much as the bits and bytes that make up our search engine tools. Accordingly, perceptual-cognitive systems and phenomena have played a major role in the experimental work presented herein.

Keywords: Search Engine Result Visualisation,Search Engine,Information Visualisation,Motion,Animation,Document Spatialisation,Online Experiment

Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2014
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Professor David Powers