Dear Colleagues,

     Web search services are big news in USA Today and on NBC, but
   the news is often about the frustration people experience and
   the feeling of being overwhelmed.  We feel that some of these
   problems could be alleviated by better design of user interfaces
   and by increased consistency, even across competing systems.

     We propose a 4-phase framework to help designers of information
   search services, on the web and elsewhere, to provide more
   comprehensible, predictable, and controllable user interfaces.
   The proposal and two before and after examples appear in the
   January 1997 issue of the online D-Lib Magazine, which is devoted
   to research on digital libraries:

    http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january97/01contents.html

   Our abstract is below.  We would be happy to hear your feedback
   directly or invite you to post a comment on D-Lib's website.

     Sincerely,
       Ben Shneiderman, Univ. of Maryland, [log in to unmask]
       Don Byrd, Univ. of Massachusetts, [log in to unmask]
       Bruce Croft, Univ of Massachusetts, [log in to unmask]

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Clarifying Search:
A User-Interface Framework for Text Searches

Abstract: Current user interfaces for textual database searching
leave much to be desired: individually, they are often confusing,
and as a group, they are seriously inconsistent. We propose a
four- phase framework for user-interface design: the framework
provides common structure and terminology for searching while
preserving the distinct features of individual collections and
search mechanisms. Users will benefit from faster learning,
increased comprehension, and better control, leading to more
effective searches and higher satisfaction.