Search engines and web-based resources have become ubiquitous and essential tools for supporting the use of interactive systems. (e.g, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, etc.) For example, people rely on web resources to learn new tasks, troubleshoot problems, or remind themselves of key task details. This reliance on search engines and web-based resources generates a rich set of signals that characterizes how the population thinks about and uses software systems “in the wild,” on a day-to-day basis.
In this talk, I demonstrate how these signals can be extracted and leveraged. Specifically, I show how logs of online interactions can be used to identify potential usability problems in any publicly available interactive system. I show how web tutorials can be used to map a broad user vocabulary to the narrow vocabulary expressed in a user interface. Finally, I demonstrate how web resources and software applications can mutually enhance each other by means of a shared interaction history. I conclude with an outline of my long-term research vision, which casts software applications, web search, and online support materials as interoperating components of a larger holistic system to be studied, designed, and evaluated in concert.
Adam Fourney joined the MSR Context, Learning, and User Experience for Search (CLUES) research group in September of this year, having recently earned his doctoral degree from the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, working under the supervision of Dr. Michael Terry. Adam also holds a master’s degree from the University of Waterloo, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa, and has interned on two occasions at Microsoft Research Redmond. Outside of his primary research interests, Adam is an active developer in the Pebble smartwatch community.