Visualizing digital library search results with categorical and hierarchical axes

TitleVisualizing digital library search results with categorical and hierarchical axes
Publication TypeConference Papers
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsShneiderman B, Feldman D, Rose A, Grau X F
Conference NameProceedings of the fifth ACM conference on Digital libraries
Date Published2000///
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number1-58113-231-X
Keywordscategorical axes, digital libraries, Graphical user interfaces, hierarchy, hieraxes, Information Visualization

Digital library search results are usually shown as a textual list, with 10-20 items per page. Viewing several thousand search results at once on a two-dimensional display with continuous variables is a promising alternative. Since these displays can overwhelm some users, we created a simplified two-dimensional display that uses categorical and hierarchical axes, called hieraxes. Users appreciate the meaningful and limited number of terms on each hieraxis. At each grid point of the display we show a cluster of color-coded dots or a bar chart. Users see the entire result set and can then click on labels to move down a level in the hierarchy. Handling broad hierarchies and arranging for imposed hierarchies led to additional design innovations. We applied hieraxes to a digital video library of science topics used by middle school teachers, a legal information system, and a technical library using the ACM Computing Classification System. Feedback from usability testing with 32 subjects revealed strengths and weaknesses.