An Exploratory Evaluation of Three Interfaces for Browsing Large Hierarchical Tables of Contents

Richard Chimera, Ben Shneiderman


Three different interfaces were used to browse a large (1296 items) table of contents. A fully expanded stable interface, expand/contract interface, and multipane interface were studied in a between-groups experiment with 41 novice participants. Nine timed fact retrieval tasks were performed; each task is analyzed and discussed separately. We found that both the expand/contract and multipane interfaces produced significantly faster times than the stable interface for many tasks using this large hierarchy; other advantages of the expand/contract and multipane interfaces over the stable interface are discussed. The animation characteristics of the expand/contract interface appear to play a major role. Refinements to the multipane and expand/contract interfaces are suggested. A predictive model for measuring navigation effort of each interface is presented.


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