Hmm.  From the problems they identify, their proposed solution of adding
Ajax controls to a moded search, in my opinion, utterly misses the
point.  Moded searches (and moded interfaces generally) have long been
known to create usability problems.  Rather than providing a search that
works differently depending on the previously selected settings, it's
better to let the user choose their options on the fly, so they don't
have to remember to toggle off an old setting.

Many of the problems identified are things that are pretty easy to fix,
but every fix comes at a price.  On our catalog we set the "advanced"
search not to include the heading browse, so the problem identified in
this article with people trying to apply bibliographic-level limits to
heading-level indexes just doesn't occur.  The downside is, most people
don't find the heading browse ("Begins with ...") option when they do,
in fact, want an exact title.

It'll be interesting to see the findings when the researchers test
their proposed interface.

Genny Engel
Internet Librarian
Sonoma County Library
707 545-0831 x581

>>> [EMAIL PROTECTED] 02/04/08 11:05AM >>>
A New Zealand based study published by the ACM

White, H., Wright, T., and Chawner, B. 2006. Usability evaluation of
library online catalogues. In Proceedings of the 7th Australasian User
interface Conference - Volume 50 (Hobart, Australia, January 16 - 19,
2006). W. Piekarski, Ed. ACM International Conference Proceeding
Series, vol. 169. Australian Computer Society, Darlinghurst,
Australia, 69-72.

Money quote from abstract:

"The evaluation found severe usability problems with online
catalogues--we found so many problems we were forced to use a card
sorting technique to understand and classify the problems."

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