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Image seeking in multilingual environments: a study of the user experience

Vassilakaki, Evgenia, Hartley, Richard J. and Johnson, Frances (2012) Image seeking in multilingual environments: a study of the user experience.

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Introduction. There has been considerable activity in the development and testing of multilingual information retrieval systems, but little exploration of how users behave when using such systems. This paper provides a detailed understanding of how one group of users behaved when searching for images in a multilingual environment. Method. Observation, retrospective thinking aloud and interview were used to collect user data when searching on FlickLing, an experimental multilingual image retrieval system. Each of the twenty-four participants was required to conduct three searches for images which were described in a foreign language. Analysis. Data analysis led to the identification and the coding of users' core actions, along with associated reasons or explanations. Results. The investigation led to the description of the 'user experience' as subject to the four key influences of users' knowledge of system, search experience, knowledge of query domain and knowledge of languages prevalent across the actions of the search process and further interrelating with each other. Conclusions. The insight from treating information searching as a process and subject to key influences is presented in this paper as a detailed description of the user experience. The resulting user perspective offers insights on the relation held between core factors that influence use of the multilingual information retrieval system.

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