A Scrollbar-based Visualization for Document Navigation

Donald Byrd

Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval
Computer Science Department
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

8 February 1999


We are interested in questions of control for best-match text-retrieval systems, specifically questions as to whether simple visualizations that nonetheless go beyond the minimal ones generally available can significantly help users. Recently, we have been investigating ways to help users decide–given a set of documents retrieved by a query–which documents and passages are worth closer examination.

We built a document viewer incorporating a visualization centered around a novel content-displaying scrollbar and color term highlighting, and studied whether the visualization is helpful to non-expert searchers. Participants’ reaction to the visualization was very positive, while the objective results were inconclusive.