Human-Centred Web Search

Human-Centred Web Search

Orland Hoeber (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0330-1.ch010
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Abstract

People commonly experience difficulties when searching the Web, arising from an incomplete knowledge regarding their information needs, an inability to formulate accurate queries, and a low tolerance for considering the relevance of the search results. While simple and easy to use interfaces have made Web search universally accessible, they provide little assistance for people to overcome the difficulties they experience when their information needs are more complex than simple fact-verification. In human-centred Web search, the purpose of the search engine expands from a simple information retrieval engine to a decision support system. People are empowered to take an active role in the search process, with the search engine supporting them in developing a deeper understanding of their information needs, assisting them in crafting and refining their queries, and aiding them in evaluating and exploring the search results. In this chapter, recent research in this domain is outlined and discussed.
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Searcher Behaviour

Even with the simple and easy-to-use interfaces provided by the top Web search companies, people commonly have difficulties searching the Web. Numerous studies have been conducted in recent years that attempt to characterize the behaviour of Web searchers (Jansen, Booth, & Spink, 2007; Jansen & Pooch, 2001; Jansen & Spink, 2006; Silverstein, Henzinger, Marais, & Moricz, 1999; Spink, Wolfram, Jansen, & Saracevic, 2001). Two things that most of these studies agree on are that people who search the Web use very short queries; and they don’t consider many search results. Indeed, most Web search queries are between one and three terms in length, and few people venture past the third page of the search results.

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