Interactive visual facets to support fluid exploratory search

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  • Chen He
  • Luana Micallef
  • Barış Serim
  • Tung Vuong
  • Tuukka Ruotsalo
  • Giulio Jacucci

Abstract: Exploratory search starts with ill-defined goals and involves browsing, learning, and formulating new targets for search. To fluidly support such dynamic search behaviours, we focus on devising interactive visual facets (IVF), visualising information facets to support user comprehension and control of the information space. We reviewed existing faceted search interfaces and derived two design requirements (DR) that have not been fully addressed to support fluid interactions in exploratory search. We then exemplified the requirements through devising an IVF tool, which coordinates a linear and a categorical facet representing the distribution and summarisation of items, respectively, and providing context for faceted exploration (DR1). To support rapid transitions between search criteria (DR2), the tool introduces a novel design concept of using facets to select items without filtering the item space. Particularly, we propose a filter-swipe technique that enables users to drag a categorical facet value sequentially over linear facet bars to view the items in the intersection of the two facets along with the categorical facet dynamically summarising the items in the intersection. Three applications with various datasets demonstrate how the features support information discovery with ease. A comparison with a baseline system provided evidence that the task performance of the IVF tool was comparable to the typical query search interface. Another study of 11 participants with realistic email search tasks shows that dynamic suggestions through the timeline navigation can help discover useful suggestions for search; the novel design concept was favoured over using facet values as filters. Based on these practices, we derive IVF design implications for fluid, exploratory searches. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visualization
Pages (from-to)211–230
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Exploratory search, Fluid interaction, Information facets, Visual data exploration

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