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1960s Electronically searched info on computer. 1971 End-user search ... 1992 Gopher was fully functional. 1994 Emergence of first Web search engine (WebCrawler) ...

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LIS 385T: Information Architecture and Design

Search Results

By Roger C. Wei


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History of e-Info Searching

  • 1960s Electronically searched info on computer.

  • 1971 End-user search system was introduced.

  • 1985 First commercial CD-ROM appeared.

  • 1991 Emergence of the World Wide Web.

  • 1992 Gopher was fully functional.

  • 1994 Emergence of first Web search engine (WebCrawler).

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What is Search Results

  • Search results refer to presentation of content that matches the user’s search query (Rosenfeld & Morville, 2002).

  • Consist of individual hits.

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Search Tools on the Web

  • About 85% of web users surveyed use search engines to find specific information.

  • Results of a web search depend on the selected search engine.

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Searching and Ranking Process

(1) match the search words

(2) process the search syntax

(3) construct a set of documents

(4) assign a weight

(5) use the assigned weights to rank

(6) display the search results

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  • An abstract measure of how well a document satisfy the user’s info need.

  • A subjective notion and difficult to quantify.

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Factors of Ranking (1/2)

  • Popularity of the page

  • Frequency of terms

  • Number of query terms matched

  • Rarity of terms

  • Weighting by field

  • Proximity of terms

  • Word variants

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Factors of Ranking (2/2)

  • Weighting according to the order where the searcher entered terms

  • Case-sensitivity

  • Analysis of documents in the database

  • Relevance feedback applied to retrieved records

  • Date

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What re-ranking search results are


User Interface

Database Selector

Doc Selector

Result Merger

Query Dispatcher







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Measure of IR tool Effectiveness

  • Recall=

    the number of retrieved relevant documents

    the number of relevant documents

  • Precision=

    the number of retrieved relevant documents

    the number of retrieved documents

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Recall vs. Precision



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Search Evaluation

  • Must be examined in pairs.

  • Two Issues:

    • Not easy to define relevancy

    • Difficult to know the # of relevant doc that have not been retrieved.

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Survey of Existing Engines (1/2)

  • Major Search Engines: Google, Teoma, (FAST), Yahoo, MSN Search, Lycos, Ask Jeeves, AOL Search, WiseNut, Inktomi, LookSmart, Open Directory, Overture, AltaVista, HotBot, Netscape Search.

  • News Search Engines: AltaVista News

  • Specialty Search Engines: Ask Jeeves

  • Kids Search Engines: AOL Kids Only

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Survey of Existing Engines (2/2)

  • Metacrawlers: Dogpile, Metacrawler, Cnet Search,, ProFusion, Mamma, Ixquick.

  • Multimedia Search Engines:

  • Regional Search Engines: Mosaique.

  • Paid Listings Search Engines: Overture.

  • Search Utilities: Copernic.

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Search Results & Info Architecture

-IA, organization info to reach info needs.

  • IA provides more considerations for the way engines display results.

  • IA indirectly increase user’s satisfaction in info needs, when IR don’t have a major breakthrough.

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Interface Design at the Search results page: Farkas (2002)

  • Display a number indicating the total number of results.

  • Provide a query form on the results page.

  • Offer some tips on searching if no results.

  • Hits must provide sufficient information.

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Interface Design at the Search results page: Van Duyne (2002)

  • Provide relevant summaries

  • Offer clear organization

  • Provide good hyperlinked titles for each hit

  • Use log files to tailor results for the most common search terms

  • Compensate for common misspellings

  • Provide support for common search tasks

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Interface Design at the Search results page: Rosenfeld (2002)

-variables to consider:

  • The level of searching expertise users have.

  • The type of results users want.

  • The type of information being searched.

  • The amount of information being searched.

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Search Results Interface (2002)

  • Google vs. Hotbot.

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References (2002)

  • Baeza-Yates, R. & Ribeiro-Neto, B. (1999) Modern Information Retrieval. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, USA.

  • Chowdhury, A. & Soboroff, I. (2002) Automatic Evaluation of World Wide Web Search Services, Proceeding of the twenty-fifth annual international conference on research and development in information retrieval, August 11-15, 2002, 421-422, Tampere, Finland.

  • Chowdhury G. G. & Chowdhury S. (2001) information sources and searching on the world wide web. Library Association Publishing. London, UK.

  • Farkas, D. K., & Farkas J. B. (2002) Principles of Web Design. Pearson Education, Inc.

  • Glossbrenner, A. & Glossbrenner, E. (1999) Search engines for the world wide web, 2nd edn, Peachpit Press.

  • Google: How to Interpret your Search Results (2002). Retrieved October 18, 2002, from:

  • Hagedorn, K. (2000) Information Architecture Glossary. Retrieved October 18, 2002, from:

  • Henninger, M. (1999) Don’t Just Surf: effective reserch strategies for the Net, 2nd Edition, Univeristy of New South Wales Press, Australia.

  • Hock, R. E. (2001) The extreme searcher’s guide to web search engines: a handbook for the serious searcher, 2nd Edition. CyberAge Books, Information Today, Inc. New Jersey, USA.

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  • Jansen, B. J. 2000. An investigation into the use of simple queries on Web IR systems. Information Research: An Electronic Journal. 6(1).

  • Kobayashi, M. & Takeda, K. (2000) Information Retrieval on the Web. ACM Computing Surveys, 32(2), June 2000, 144-174.

  • Meng, W., Yu, C. & Liu K. (2002) Building Efficient and Effective Metasearch Engines. ACM Computing Surveys, 34(1), March 2002, 48–89.

  • Morville, P., Rosenfeld, L. B. & Janes, J. (1999) The Internet searcher’s handbook : locating information, people, and software. 2nd Edition. Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. NY, USA.

  • Poulter, A., Tseng, G. & Sargent, G. (1999) The Library and Information Professional’s Guide to the World Wide Web, Library Association Publishing.

  • Rosenfeld, L. & Morville P. (2002). Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 2nd Edition. O’Reilly, Sebastopol, CA, USA.

  • Search Terms Glossary (1998). Retrieved October 20, 2002, from:

  • Sullivan, D. (2002) Search Engine Watch. Retrieved October 10, 2002, from: Van Duyne, D. K., Landay, J. A. & Hong, J. I. (2002) The Desing of Sites: patterns, principles, and processes for crafting a customer-centered Web experience. Addison-Wesley.

  • Weiss, S. (1997) Glossary for Information Retrieval. Retrieved October 10, 2002, from:

  • Yang, R. (1998) Relationship between Precision and Recall ratios and other evaluation methods. Retrieved July 10, 1999, from: