Information displays: The effects of organization and category distinctiveness on user performance
Halgren, Shannon Lee
Cooke, Nancy J.
Master of Arts
The goal of this research was to test the effect of display organization on user performance under a situation representative of non-experts' interactions with an online display. Alphabetical, categorical, and random organizations were tested for response time and accuracy on a visual search task (Experiment 1) and on a problem solving task (Experiment 2). Term or definition targets were searched for in displays consisting of items from distinct or overlapping categories. Performance with alphabetical and categorical organizations was similar when targets were terms and categories were distinct, however, these conditions are atypical of non-experts' interactions. Categorical organizations were superior when task difficulty increased. Surprisingly, overlapping categories resulted in decreased accuracy with alphabetical organizations relative to the distinct category conditions, whereas, performance with categorical organizations remained unaffected. This result and evidence suggesting that the individual display items influence how these factors affect performance have implications for interpreting past display organization research.