Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato
Computer Science Seminar Room, G1.15
Small handheld devices -- mobile phones, PDAs etc -- are increasingly being used to access the Web. Search engines are the most used Web services and are an important user support. Recently, Google(TM) (and other search engine providers) have started to offer their services on the small screen. This paper presents a detailed evaluation of how easy to use such services are in these new contexts. An experiment was carried out to compare users' abilities to complete realistic tourist orientated search tasks using a WAP, PDA-sized and conventional, desktop interface to the full Google(TM) index. With all three interfaces, when users succeed in completing a task, they do so quickly (within 2 to 3 minutes) and using few interactions with the search engine. When they fail, though, they fail badly. The paper examines the causes of failures in small screen searching and proposes guidelines for improving these interfaces.