Publication: Finder Highlights: Field Evaluation and Design of an Augmented File Browser

Navigating to files through a hierarchy is often a slow, laborious, and repetitive task. Recent lab studies showed that file browser interface augmentations, such as Icon Highlights and Search Directed Navigation [15], have the potential to reduce file retrieval times. However, for this potential to be realised in actual systems, further study is necessary to address two important issues. First, there are important design and implementation challenges in advancing the research prototypes previously evaluated into complete interactive systems that can be used for real work. Second, it is unknown how real users would employ these systems while engaged in actual work; would the potential performance improvements suggested by the earlier lab studies be realised? We therefore describe the design, implementation, and longitudinal field study evaluation of Finder Highlights, a file browser plugin for the OS X 'Finder' that adds support for Icon Highlights and Search Directed Navigation. Study results confirm that the augmentations are effective in reducing real-world file retrieval times, with retrieval times 13% faster when using Finder Highlights compared to the standard tool (10.6 s versus 12.2 s), while also emphasising important differences between lab and field studies. In summary, the paper strongly suggests that large-scale deployment of interface augmentations to file browsers, particularly Icon Highlights, will have a marked effect in improving users' real-world file retrieval.

Downloads

PDF

Participants

Stephen Fitchett Andy Cockburn
University of Canterbury
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan

Citation

Fitchett, S., Cockburn, A., Gutwin, C. 2014. Finder Highlights: Field Evaluation and Design of an Augmented File Browser. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2014), ISBN 978-1-4503-2473-1.

BibTeX

@inbook {447-finder-highlights,
author= {Stephen Fitchett and Andy Cockburn and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Finder Highlights: Field Evaluation and Design of an Augmented File Browser},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2014)},
year= {2014}
}