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Ease of use versus user control: an evaluation of Web and non‐Web interfaces of online databases

Hong (Iris) Xie (Hong (Iris) Xie is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA.)
Colleen Cool (Colleen Cool is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, at Queens College, City University of New York, New York, USA.)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 1 April 2000

Abstract

This paper reports on an investigation comparing searcher experiences with Web and non‐Web interfaces to online databases. The study was designed to address the following questions: what is the nature of searcher preferences for Web versus non‐Web interfaces to online databases and, more specifically, what are the characteristics of Web and non‐Web based interfaces that help or hinder effective searching? Two samples of students enrolled in a graduate level Advanced Databases Searching course were used as participants in the research. In this class, the students used several Web and non‐Web based online databases. The data collected from self‐administered open‐ended questionnaires were employed in the analysis to address the research questions posed above. Results of the study indicate that some of the functions of Web interfaces outperform non‐Web interfaces; but at the same time they are not universally preferred. An important dynamic that surfaced in this study which helped to explain searcher preference for one type of interface over another was that of user control versus ease of use in the search process. This study concludes with an argument for greater attention to the tension between user control and ease of use in the design of effective and useful interactive online retrieval systems.

Keywords

Citation

Xie, H.(I). and Cool, C. (2000), "Ease of use versus user control: an evaluation of Web and non‐Web interfaces of online databases", Online Information Review, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 102-115. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684520010330265

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

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