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Digital Library User Interface and Usability Week 8 Goals Discover elements of good interface design for digital libraries of various sorts Consider examples from DL usability evaluation as sources of insight.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Discover elements of good interface design for digital libraries of various sorts
  • Consider examples from DL usability evaluation as sources of insight.
  • Look at the distinct requirements of interfaces to libraries of video and audio files
  • Note --
    • We have a whole class in User System Interface
    • Everything in that class is relevant to User Interfaces for Digital Libraries
    • One evening will not replace that course, nor will it capture all of the relevant factors.
note to do later
Note - to do later
  • At the end of the class, I will ask you to do a reflection on the points raised. You will be asked to summarize the most important characteristics of a well-developed DL interface.
  • As you continue your DL projects, be sure to apply the relevant components of these elements.
the challenge
The challenge
  • A user interface for digital libraries must display large volumes of data effectively.
    • Typically the user is presented with one or more overlapping windows that can be resized and rearranged.
    • In digital libraries, a large amount of data spread through a number of resources necessitates intuitive interfaces for users to query and retrieve information.
    • The ability to smoothly change the user's perspective from high-level summarization information down to a specific paragraph of a document or scene from a film remains a challenge to user interface researchers.


expectations of digital libraries
Expectations of Digital Libraries
  • Provide at least those services available in traditional libraries
  • … and more.
  • A system is successful “only to the degree to which the vast majority of its intended users are able to use its intended functionality”

Hill 97

user centered design
User-centered design
  • “User-centered design for a digital library must include not only systems evaluation but also an understanding of the process of information seeking and use.”
  • Compared to a “self-evident door handle” -- once you see it, you know what it does and how to use it. No instruction is necessary.

Hill 97

methods of evaluation
Methods of evaluation
  • Surveys
  • Target user groups
    • Focus groups from the intended audiences
  • Ethnographic studies
    • Audio/video taped sessions of users
    • Analysis of feedback and comments
  • Demographic analysis of beta tester registration data
  • Log analysis
    • We will consider in more detail next week as we look at quality measures

Hill 97

usability inspection of digital libraries
Usability inspection of Digital Libraries
  • To produce a product with high usability
    • Client and user interviews
    • Task analysis
    • User class definitions
    • Usage scenarios
    • Iterative usability design
    • Prototyping
    • Design walk-throughs
    • Usability evaluation

Unfortunately, most developers look at usability analysis as something to do at the end of the development process as a final test, rather than as a part of the design process.

Source: Hartson 04

  • Evaulation for any purpose has two major components
    • Formative
      • During development, spot check how things are progressing
      • Identify problems that may prevent goals from being achieved
      • Make adjustments to avoid the problems and get the project back on track
    • Summative
      • After development, see how well it all came out
      • Lessons learned may be applicable to future projects, but are too late to affect the current one.
      • Needed for reporting back to project sponsors on success of the work.
usability evaluation
Usability evaluation
  • Lab-based formative evaluation
    • Real and representative users
    • Benchmark tasks
    • Qualitative and quantitative data
    • Leads to redesign where needed
  • After deployment
    • Real users doing real tasks in daily work
    • Summative with respect to the deployed system
    • Useful for later versions
usability inspection
Usability inspection
  • Lower cost option than full lab-based testing
  • Applies to early designs, well-developed designs, and deployed systems
  • Does not employ real users
  • Expert based
    • Usability engineering practitioners
  • May be guided by typical user tasks
  • Seeks to predict usability problems that users will encounter.

Hartson 04

inspection categories
Inspection categories
  • User classes
    • Know your user
    • Example from the cited study:
      • Scientific researchers in computer science
      • Administrators
        • Do not use the regular interface, so not evaluated
  • User tasks
    • Search for technical reports on a set of criteria
    • Browse the collection
    • Register
    • Submit
    • Harvest

Hartson 04

search expanded
Search expanded
  • Search options
    • Simple search
      • All bibliographic fields
      • Group results by archive
      • Sort
    • Advanced search
      • Focus on specific fields with filter options

Hartson 04

results 1
Results - 1
  • Submit and Harvest tasks not evaluated
    • Specialized domain requirements
    • Need evaluation with real users to do meaningful testing
  • Report on Problems Found
    • Usability problem types
      • Wording, consistency
    • Functionality
      • Search and browse functionality
  • Problem = anything that impacts the user’s task performance or satisfaction.

Hartson 04

categories of problems
General to most applications, GUIs



Graphic layout and organization

User’s model of the system

Digital Library functionality




Document submission functions

Categories of Problems

Hartson 04

  • About 36% of the problems in the case
  • “Precise use of words in user interfaces is one of the most important design considerations for usability”
  • Clear, complete, correct
    • Button and tab labels
    • Menu choices
    • Web links
  • Crucial to help users learn and understand functionality
  • Easiest problems to fix if someone with right skills is on the team.

Hartson 04

search and browse functionality
Search and Browse functionality
  • Pretty basic to what a DL does!
  • 18% of the problems were in that area.
  • Designers consider these separate functions
  • Users see them as extremely closely related
    • Find the desired resource
    • Should be designed together

Hartson 04

usual suspects
“Usual Suspects”
  • Digital libraries prone to the same design faults as other interactive systems
    • Consistency
      • “group” and “archive” used interchangeably
      • Different labels for the same concept used in different places
        • Simple search on tab, Search all bibliographic field at function location
      • Multiple terms referring to the same concept confuse users, slow learning
    • Standardize terminology and check it carefully

Hartson 04

usual suspects 2
Usual Suspects - 2
  • Problems with Feedback
    • Clearly indicate where the user is in the overall system
      • Clicking a tab does not result in highlighting or any kind of feedback about which tab is the currently active choice.
      • Selected institution (archive) highlighted when chosen, but not maintained after some other actions.

Hartson 04

usual suspects 3
Usual suspects - 3
  • Wording
    • Use of jargon or slang, or unclear or missing labels
      • Challenge for users
      • Example in NCSTRL
        • Several dates used. The labels for the dates do not clearly described what each represents.
        • “discovery date” which is different from “accession date”
          • Discovery date -- probably a developers term, and not likely to be of interest to the user.
    • Use terms that are meaningful to users without explanation whenever possible. Resist presenting data that is not useful for user purposes.

Hartson 04

usual suspects 4
Usual suspects - 4
  • Wording, continued
    • Example: Submit to CoRR tab
      • Could be “Submit Technical Report(s) to CoRR
    • Example: Search all bibliographic fields
      • Could be “Simple Search: Search all bibliograhic fields in selected archive (or for selected institution”
    • Other examples of unclear labels
      • Archive’s Set - technical term from OAI-PMH
      • DateStamp
      • Discovery Date
  • Label for the user, not the developer

Hartson 04

usual suspects 5
Usual Suspects - 5
  • Incorrect or inappropriate wording
    • “Search results” label for browsing results
    • hits (1-n) or total xxx hits displayed
      • Not search results, just reports available for browsing
    • Apparent use of combined code for browse and search.
  • Label results appropriately, even scrupulously, for their real meaning.

Hartson 04

usual suspects 6
Usual suspects - 6
  • Appropriate terms
    • Use of “hits” for individual search (or browse) results
      • Commonly used
      • Inappropriate slang, according to usability experts
      • Considered unattractive, even slightly offensive
      • Recommended: something like “Matches with search term”
    • Cosmetic consideration can have a positive affect on user’s impression of the site.

Hartson 04

layout and design
Layout and design
  • The whole point of a graphical user interface is to convey more information to the user in a short time.
    • The GUI must support the user needs
  • Example problems in the NCSTRL evaluation
    • Menu choices - no logical order
    • Reorganize by task or functionality
  • Organize task interfaces by categories to present a structured system model and reduce cognitive workload.

Hartson 04

layout example
Layout example
  • Instead of randomly ordered tabs, group them by
    • Information links
      • About NCSTRL
      • About CoRR
      • OAI
      • Help
    • User tasks
      • Simple search
      • Advanced search
      • Browse
      • Register
      • Submit technical reports to CoRR

Hartson 04

graphical design
Graphical design
  • Proximity of elements suggests associations and relatedness
    • Search button very close to OR radio box
    • Applies equally to all parts of the dialog
  • Consider the implications of placement and association of graphical elements.

Hartson 04

start off right
Start off right
  • Any application should have a home page that explains what the site is about and gives the user a sense of the overall site capability and use.
  • NCSTRL starts with the Simple Search page, with no introduction.
dl specific problems
DL specific problems
  • Searching, filtering, browsing
    • User view: all are aspects of finding a needed resource
    • Developer view: differences based on what must go in an index to support searching, how filtering is combined with searching to form a new query, etc.
  • Usability suggestion: combine search, browse, filter into one selection and navigation facility.
    • Give users the power to combine these elements to serve their needs.

Hartson 04

iterative search
Iterative search
  • Search is often implemented as a one-shot function.
    • Users want to iterate on their query string to improve results
      • NCSTRL does not show the query that produced the given results.
    • Users want to prune the result set by applying a subsequent query to just those results
      • Not available in NCSTRL
      • Examples where it is available?

Hartson 04

  • NCSTRL allows browsing only by institutions (archive)
    • Other possibilities
      • Date
      • Author
      • Subject
  • Allow user activity that will serve user needs. Try to find out what users want before making decisions about services offered.
  • “A portal <is> a single point of access to distributed systems that provides services to support user needs to search, browse, and contribute content, often linking to shared existing functionality at other sites.”
  • Portal pass through problem
    • Does the portal add service, or just provide a link to a collection of other sites?

Hartson 04

portal submission
Portal - submission
  • NCSTRL - submission to CoRR
  • Link opens to another page, not directly offering the opportunity to submit.
  • Disconnect for the user between the original page and the action promised.
  • Link directly to the service offered without any intermediate pages unless needed in support of the service.

Hartson 04

summary for ncstrl case
Summary for NCSTRL case
  • System exhibited many typical problems with user interfaces
  • Investigation illuminated some issues specific to digital libraries or other systems for retrieving information.
another case citidel










Dispatch routines

Custom HTTP


XSL Templates

Apache HTTP server

Perl Page Generation Modules

End Users

-- Educators

-- Students

-- Researchers

-- Professionals

HTML pages

Custom Search Engine (ESSEX)



Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Interface

CITIDEL Databases

-- Resource metadata

-- Users and Accounts

Other Digital Libraries

and metadata indices

Another Case - CITIDEL
  • Practical issue
    • What would be the results of applying a usability review to CITIDEL, similar to that applied to NCSTRL?
  • A few extra notes that come up in examining CITIDEL
    • No way to submit a resource (only accepts metadata for resources located elsewhere)
      • Is that an issue? Why or why not?
    • Design of the front page
      • Cluttered, confusing
      • What is really essential? What is useful? How should it be organized?
video digital libraries
Video Digital Libraries
  • Video digital libraries offer more challenges for interface design
    • Information attributes are more complex
      • Visual, audio, other media
    • Indicators and controlling widgets
      • Start, stop, reverse, jump to beginning/end, seek a particular frame or a frame with a specified characteristic

Source: Lee 02

video interface features

Semi-automatic tool

Manual tool

Threshold adjustable before automatic segmentation

Textual Query

Natural language (or keyword)

Category or keyword list browsing

Audio information for indexing, browsing

Intelligent frame selection

Video browsing

Text description


Single keyframe


Option re granularity of keyframe set

Interactive hierarchical keyframe browser

Keyframe slide show

Video summary playing


Transcript + playback synch

Keyframe + playback synch

Text search + playback and/or keyframe synch

Video Interface Features

Source: Lee 02

common features for video dls
Common features for Video DLs
  • Most systems use a textual querying interface and few systems provide any form of visual query interface, probably indicating the need for further development in this area;
  • Most systems use keyframe(s) as their video browsing method;
  • Playback is provided in all listed systems, indicating that playback is regarded as a most important interface feature;
  • Whereas most systems provide more than one video browsing method (often transcript + playback and/or keyframe + playback), browsing aids such as synchronisation between different browsing methods are not often facilitated.

Source: Lee 02

stages of information seeking in video digital libraries
Stages of Information seeking in Video Digital Libraries
  • Browsing and then selecting video programs (as a collection)
  • Querying within a video program (content querying)
  • Browsing the content of a video program
  • Watching (part of) a video program
  • Re-querying the video digital library and/or within a video program

Source: Lee 02


Summarizing stages of information seeking and the interface elements that support them as described in four researchers’ work.

Source: Lee 02

granularity in video browsing
Granularity in Video Browsing
  • Abstraction
    • Reducing the information available to a manageable, usable subset
  • Traditional video & audio browsing
    • One point of access
    • Sequential
    • Fast forward
      • Difficult to see the content
      • Need to return to the beginning to repeat search

Source: Lee 02

video abstraction
Video Abstraction
  • Levels to present: (from Shneiderman 98)
    • Overview first
    • Zoom and Filter
    • Details on Demand
  • Example levels (from Christel 97)
    • Title: text format, very high level overview
    • Poster frame: single frame taken from the video
    • Filmstrip: a set of frames taken from the video
    • Skim: multiple significant bits of video sequences
  • Time reference
    • Significant in video
    • Options include simple timeline, text specification of time of the current frame, depth of browsing unit

Source: Lee 02

keyframe browsing
Keyframe browsing
  • Extract a set of frames from the video
    • Display each as a still image
    • Link each to play the video from that point
  • Selection is not random
    • Video analysis allows recognition
      • Sudden change of camera shot
      • Scenes with motion or largely stationary
    • Video indexing based on frame-by-frame image comparison
      • Similar to thumbnail browsing of image collections

Source: Lee 02

keyframe extraction
Keyframe extraction
  • Manual
    • Owner or editor explicitly selects the frames to be used as index elements
  • Automatic
    • Subsampling - select from regular intervals
      • Easy, but may not be the best representation
    • Automatic segmentation - break the video into meaningful chunks and sample each
      • Shot boundary detection - note switch from one camera to another, or distinct events from one camera

Source: Lee 02

displaying the frames
Displaying the frames
  • Once the key frames are selected, display them for effective user interaction
    • Storyboard
      • Miniaturized keyframes in chronological order
      • Aka keyframe list or filmstrip
    • Slide show
      • Keyframes displayed one at a time
    • Hierarchically arranged
      • Good when content is structured
more detail
More detail
  • For much more detail about Video browsing and presentation, see Lee 02.
  • Much of digital library user interface design and usability analysis is the same as that of other web services
    • Keep the user central in the design phase
    • Be careful about word use
    • Organize the graphics and layout carefully
    • Think about the user experience
  • Some special considerations about DL usability have to do with DL services
    • Search, filter, browse
    • Connections with other collections to which this is a portal

Adam, N., Holowczak, R., Halem, M., Lal, N., and Yesha, Y. “Digital Lbrary Technical Committee”

Christel 97: Christel, M., Winkler, D. and Taylor, C. (1997) “Multimedia abstractions for a digital video library” Proceedings of the 2nd ACM International Conference on Digital Libraries (DL ‘97), Philadelphia, PA July, pp 21-29

Hartson, H. R., Shivakmar, P, and Perez-Quiñones (2004) “Usability inspection of digital libraries: a case study” International Joural of Digital Libraries 4: 108-123

Hill, L., Dolin, R., Frew, J., Kemp, R., Larsgaard, M., Montello, D., Rae, M., and Simpson, J. “user Evaluation: Summary of the Metholologies and Results for the Alexandria Digital Library, University of California at Santa Barbara.

Lee 02: Lee, H., and Smeaton, A. (2002) “Designing the User Interface for the Físchlár Digital Video Library” Journal of Digital Information, Volume 2, Issue 4 May 2002

Shneiderman 98: Shneiderman, B (1998) Designing the user interface: strategies for effective human-computer interaction, 3rd edition (Addison Wesley Longman)