TopicTracker : an investigation of a graphical map for use in revisiting previously viewed Web pages
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Disorientation while navigating hypertext information systems is a persistent problem that has been the focus of many research projects. This study examined the ways in which disorientation can be relieved when revisiting previously viewed Web pages organized by topic, through the use of a graphical mapping tool that provides enriched information about page contents, that are visually bound to the display of the map. A model for creating a graphical mapping tool for open, directed comprehensive browsing tasks performed by research-oriented users was developed, and the TopicTracker tool was prototyped based upon this model. A study of 20 graduate students and faculty members and analyzed in a 2x3 mixed factorial design examined the efficiency of and preference for this tool as measured against Internet Explorer Favorites. Secondary research questions examined whether cognitive style, as measured by the Cognitive Styles Analysis, had an effect on efficiency and preference. Participants performed browsing and revisitation tasks in two separate sessions separated by a week’s time. The results of this study showed that the TopicTracker tool was significantly more efficient for the revisitation task and was preferred by the participants over Favorites regardless of the participant’s cognitive v style, largely owing to its enriched information presentation capabilities regarding the contents of the pages.