A comparison of usability techniques for evaluating information retrieval system interfaces

S.M. Zabed Ahmed (Department of Information Science and Library Management, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Publication date: 21 March 2008



The purpose of this research is to compare the results of two different usability techniques in evaluating the Web of Science interface.


At first three human factors experts conducted a heuristic evaluation with the interface. Then, usability testing was conducted with 22 students recruited from various departments at Loughborough University, UK.


A comparison of these techniques showed that heuristic evaluation revealed qualitative information whereas usability testing uncovered mostly quantitative data about usability of the interface. Although heuristic evaluation found more problems than usability testing, it also identified complementary information.

Research limitations/implications

This paper recommends applying multiple usability techniques to ensure comprehensiveness in evaluating IR interfaces.


This paper shows that using multiple usability techniques resulted in a high degree of comprehensiveness in evaluating IR user interfaces.



Zabed Ahmed, S. (2008), "A comparison of usability techniques for evaluating information retrieval system interfaces", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 48-58. https://doi.org/10.1108/14678040810869422

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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