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Date of Award

11-1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Management Science/Systems

Supervisor

Norman P. Archer

Abstract

The human computer interface is a vital component of the computer system, and is often seen as the entire system from the user's perspective. A properly designed interface should allow the user to effortlessly access information, which can also facilitate the decision making process. In this study, we develop a research framework to explore specific links between the decision making, information access and user interface domains. We examine three specific interface Wide Web history mechanisms) and their links within our research framework, which can then provide design implications for usable interfaces. Voice and text output modes were investigated in a multiple alternative decision making task experiment. We were able to conduct a direct comparison between these output modes by presenting the same information for the same length of time for each mode (voice, text, and both voice and text). We found the text mode was the most efficient, resulting in shorter decision times. Both voice and text was preferred to voice alone, but there were no significant differences between text\voice and both\text output mode pairings. A multiple alternative decision making task experiment was also used information structure was not imposed on the user. We found that a top-down search strategy was directly related to a tendency to use a compensatory and alternative-wise decision making strategy. We also found that the propensity to use a top-down strategy became less as the search progressed in favour of a more opportunistic approach. The final interface component investigated was a World Wide Web hypermedia history mechanism. A Memory Extender Mechanism for Online Searching (MEMOS) tool was developed to provide the Web user with intra- and inter-sessional navigation support in parallel with existing browser navigation mechanisms. This tool can be used to navigate among pages within a particular session, or save all or part of a navigation session for future inter-sessional use. Session sites may be saved in a three level user-defined hierarchy, thus making lists more manageable and understandable. We conducted experiments where subjects compared MEMOS with corresponding Netscape 3.0 Web browser history mechanisms. The results of the experiments indicated significant preferences for the MEMOS tool, and significant efficiency and effectiveness measures for MEMOS inter-sessional was also shown to be effective. From our examination of the above interface components we established specific interactive relationships among the derision making, information access and user interface domains. These relationships contribute to a better understanding of interface components that can be used to develop usable systems. Our framework also suggests possible directions for future research.

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