Browsing Affordance Designs for the Human-Centered Computing Education Digital Library
Edward Clarkson and James D. Foley
Researchers have often discussed the intuitive division of information seeking activity into searching and browsing. Users commonly seek to interleave these behaviors, but their integration is often problematic. ScentTrails imparts search-style data within a standard web browsing context by indicating which links on a web page get the user "closest" to relevant documents. Directing users to relevant areas of a library is compelling because it permits serendipitous access and reduces the cost of search/browse task switching.
Repositories commonly highlight the overall purpose or size of a collection, but other traits are often relevant yet less evident: the distribution of contents across different parts of a hierarchical classification, for example. Library visualization can make these data more evident. Visualization can also flatten the browsing process by providing direct access to a broad and deep swath of a hierarchy. The treemap visualization technique is a space-filling representation of tree structures. Many libraries already classify documents into hierarchical structures; treemaps scale well with tree size, provide a compact view of all levels of a hierarchy, and provide a scannable overview of the repository characteristics encoded in the mapping.
We are in the early development stages in both of these projects using our Human-Centered Computing Education Digital Library as a platform for these potential approaches. Beyond these specific designs, we hope to demonstrate that these and other methods represent improved, low-overhead means for DL designers to support browsing behaviors.
© Copyright 2007 Edward Clarkson and James D. Foley