Visualizing Digital Library Search Results with Categorical and Hierarchial Axes
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Digital library search results are usually shown as a textual list, with 10-20 items per page. Viewing several thousand search results at once on a two-dimensional display with continuous variables is a promising alternative. Since these displays can overwhelm some users, we created a simplified two-dimensional display that uses categorical and hierarchical axes, called hieraxes. Users appreciate the meaningful and limited number of terms on each hieraxis. At each grid point of the display we show a cluster of color-coded dots or a bar chart. Users see the entire result set and can then click on labels to move down a level in the hierarchy. Handling broad hierarchies and arranging for imposed hierarchies led to additional design innovations. We applied hieraxes to a digital video library used by middle school teachers and a legal information system.