JOURNAL OF SOFTWARE (JSW)
ISSN : 1796-217X
Volume : 3    Issue : 1    Date : January 2008

A Task-oriented Approach to Search Engine Usability Studies
Isak Taksa, Amanda Spink, and Robert Goldberg
Page(s): 63-73
Full Text:
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Abstract
Usability is a multi-dimensional characteristic of a computer system. This paper focuses on
usability as a measurement of interaction between the user and the system. The research employs
a task-oriented approach to evaluate the usability of a meta search engine. This engine encourages
and accepts queries of unlimited size expressed in natural language. A variety of conventional
metrics developed by academic and industrial research, including ISO standards, are applied to the
information retrieval process consisting of sequential tasks. Tasks range from formulating (long)
queries to interpreting and retaining search results. Results of the evaluation and analysis of the
operation log indicate that obtaining advanced search engine results can be accomplished
simultaneously with enhancing the usability of the interactive process. In conclusion, we discuss
implications for interactive information retrieval system design and directions for future usability
research.

Index Terms
usability, search engine, search tasks, query formulation, query refinement