14 / 07 / 2009Search Interfaces: Usable Guidelines and references

“Hearst’s brilliant organization, lucid writing, and admirably comprehensive review … are gifts to scholars, implementers, and students who want to contribute to … user interfaces for information search and retrieval.” – Dr. Ben Shneiderman

When books in a research field can specialize as much as to focus on guidelines for a specific applied context: that’s a clear sign of maturity! Yes! Usability has become a mature field of research and practice! And here are the evidence!

The kind of maturity I am refering to here -for usability as a research and practice field- is linked to but different from what Jakob Nielsen suggested for the corporate environment with his 8 stages of Corporate Usability Maturity.

Search User Interfaces
is a new book by Dr. Marti Hearst, professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley (BA, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science). She was a Member of the Research Staff at Xerox PARC from 1994 to 1997.

Published by Cambridge University Press (50 US$), this book is also sold through Amazon (40 US$), and very surprisingly available for free online. (In the book’s blog, you can read how the author managed to convince the publishor to do such thing!)

It is recommended to start with the Preface, which gives an overview of the book’s contents which offers two main parts: Search fundamentals (Chapters 1-7) and advanced topics (Chapters 8-12)such as Chapter 8 which tackles Navigation and Search for instance. I particularly enjoyed the chapter dealing with emerging trends in user search interfaces, exploring mobile search and social search.

Beyond its practical reach, the book is filled with references to human-computer interaction papers.

I first heard of this book via a post by Alexandre Huete on the Ergo-IHM list on July 4th, 2009. Thanks Alexandre!