Does Design Contribute to Ease of Use: An Exploratory Study of Web Facets in The Result Pages of Two Search Engines

Elizabeth Milonas


An exploratory study was conduced to examine the design aspects of Web facets found in the search result pages of two search engines: Exalead and Excite. The goal of the study was to determine if Web facet design could contribute to perceived ease of use. This study builds upon findings from an earlier study (Milonas, 2010) in which the results indicated that users perceived the Web facets evident in the search result pages of the Exalead search engine easier to use than those found in Excite. The researcher surmised that the design of these Web facets might have contributed to the difference in perceived ease of use. The relationship between design and user perception in determining the ease of use of Web facets within these two search engines is explored. In the first component of the study, an expert inspection of the various design aspects of the search result pages of Exalead and Excite was conducted.  In the second part of the study, five participants conducted an experiment using the Web facets found in the search result pages of the two search engines. Findings of both the expert inspection and the usability evaluation showed that there does not seem to be a significant difference in the design of Web facets within the two search engines. The findings seem to indicate that design of Web facets is not a contributory factor in terms of Web facet ease of use.

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