Evaluation of user interface designs for information retrieval systems: A computer-based experiment

Paul Jen Hwa Hu, Pai Chun Ma, Patrick Y.K. Chau

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we conducted a computer-based experiment to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of six different interface designs, graphical or list-based, in supporting communication of an object's `relevance' from an information retrieval (IR) system to its users. We adopted the Model Human Processor to provide a necessary framework to incorporate relevant cognitive psychology theories and user-centered design principles in the development of different interfaces. The study had a well-researched theoretical foundation, complied with relevant design principles, and included a large-scale empirical evaluation. Our results suggest that interface design may have a significant effect on system-user concept communication, regardless of users' familiarity with the search task, and that a graphical user interface may be more effective in supporting such communication than a list-based design. Furthermore, we also examined the cognitive load and user satisfaction resulting from each investigated interface design. Findings of the study have important implications for the design of IR systems (including online library systems and Internet-based search systems) as well as for the information representation and visualization of knowledge management systems, which ordinarily depend on text-based display methods to support system-user concept communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalDecision Support Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management


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