Purpose – Development of an effective search system and interface largely depends on usability studies. The aim of this paper is to present the results of an empirical evaluation of a prototype web site search and browsing tool based on multidimensional taxonomies derived from the use of faceted classification. Design/methodology/approach – A prototype Faceted Classification System (FCS), which classifies and organizes web documents under different facets (orthogonal sets of categories), was implemented on the domain of an academic institute. Facet are created from content oriented metadata, and then assembled into multiple taxonomies that describe alternative classifications of the web site content, such as by subject and location. The search and browsing interfaces use these taxonomies to enable users to access information in multiple ways. The paper compares the FCS interfaces to the existing single‐classification system to evaluate the usability of the facets in typical navigation and searching tasks. Findings – The findings suggest that performance and usability are significantly better with the FCS in the areas of efficient access, search success, flexibility, understanding of content, relevant search result, and satisfaction. These results are especially promising since unfamiliarity often leads users to reject new search interfaces. Originality/value – The results of the study in this paper can significantly contribute to interface research in the IR community, emphasizing the advantages of multidimensional taxonomies in online information collections.
Performance Measurement and Metrics – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 27, 2007
Keywords: Classification; Digital libraries; Internet