Integrating Back, History and Bookmarks in Web Browsers

Kaasten, S. (2001)
Integrating Back, History and Bookmarks in Web Browsers. Master's thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September.

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While there has been much discourse on web site usability, there has been comparatively little done about the usability problems that plague conventional web browser software that people use to browse the web. This is troubling, as gains that can be made on the browser software will improve the usability of all web sites. Most web browsers include Back, History and Bookmark facilities that simplify how people return to previously seen pages. While useful in theory, studies have found that users do not take enough advantage of these facilities. This thesis examines the usability issues present in these revisitation facilities. These issues include the disparate models that the user must understand to operate them and the mismatch between how they represent pages and how users remember their pages. To explore this issue, we ran an experiment where we compared how well people could recognize previously visited pages when shown its title, URL address or thumbnail image. The results of this experiment were translated into the design and implementation of our own alternative revisitation system. It is based on the single model of a recency-ordered history list to integrate Back, History and Bookmarks. Enhancements include: Back as a way to step through this list; implicit and explicit 'dog-ears' to mark pages on the list (replacing Bookmarks); searching/filtering the list through dynamic queries; and visual thumbnails to promote page recognition.

Bibtex entry

@MASTERSTHESIS { 2001-Kaasten.MScThesis,
AUTHOR = { Kaasten, S. },
TITLE = { Integrating Back, History and Bookmarks in Web Browsers },
SCHOOL = { Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary },
ADDRESS = { Calgary, Alberta, Canada },
YEAR = { 2001 },
MONTH = { September },