Lessons learned from the design and evaluation of visual information-seeking systems

Jens Gerken, Mathias Heilig, Hans-Christian Jetter, Sebastian Rexhausen, Mischa Demarmels, Werner König, Harald Reiterer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Designing information-seeking systems has become an increasingly complex task as today's information spaces are rapidly growing in quantity, heterogeneity, and dimensionality. The challenge is to provide user interfaces that have a satisfying usability and user experience even for novice users. Although information visualization and interaction design offer solutions, many information-seeking systems such as online catalogs for libraries or web search engines continue to use outdated user-interface concepts developed decades ago. In this paper, we will present four principles that we identified as crucial for the successful design of a modern visual information-seeking system. These are (1) to support various ways of formulating an information need, (2) to integrate analytical and browsing-oriented ways of exploration, (3) to provide views on different dimensions of the information space, and (4) to make search a pleasurable experience. These design principles are based on our experience over a long period in the user-centered design and evaluation of visual information-seeking systems. Accordingly, we will showcase individual designs from our own work of the past 10 years to illustrate each principle and hence narrow the gap between the scientific discussion and the designing practitioner that has often hindered research ideas from becoming reality. However, most of the times search is only one part of a higher level user activity (e. g. writing a paper). Thus future research should focus on the challenges when regarding search in such a broader context. We will use the final two chapters to point out some of these challenges and outline our vision of an integrated and consistent digital work environment named Zoomable Object-oriented Information Landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal on Digital Libraries
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Design principles
  • Digital libraries
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Information visualization
  • Interaction design
  • Search
  • Semantic zooming
  • Visual information-seeking


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