March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sessions: Abstract

Page Turning: Revealing the interface issues of on-line document viewing

Karen Elinich, The Franklin Institute Science Museum, USA
Paul Sparks, Pepperdine University, USA

Historic documents present a rich social legacy and should be available to all. On-line retrieval of documents is a growing solution, but access creates many problems. One important problem is interface, or how exactly one interacts with a digital representation of a document. Inattention to interface issues such as navigation, image quality, ease of use can make the experience less than satisfactory. Additionally, capturing the context of the document is a particular challenge for on-line presentation.

We explore various Web-based historic document retrieval sites and review them with an eye towards useful interaction design. Using existing established and accepted Human-Computer Interface (HCI) principles, we systematically identify the most common design flaws and omissions. We also identify positive interface traits and possibly map our findings to the success or popularity of the systems.

At the heart of our search is a desire to find ways of presenting documents that are at once accessible and rich. We search for sites that convey texture and age and condition. We hope to find sites that allow manipulation of the document in intuitive ways. We hope to discover best practices around maintaining the document in context of its covering and time period. And we hope to find compelling ways to personally annotate the documents in unobtrusive but meaningful ways.

It is hoped that the analyses of a variety of sites will yield a set of issues to avoid and key features to include, information useful to museums beginning document retrieval programs.

Session: Design Choices [Design]

Keywords: museums, books, documents, usability, interaction