Understanding in-context interaction: An investigation into on-the-go mobile search

Morgan Harvey, Matthew Pointon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Recent years have seen a profound change in how most users interact with search engines: the majority of search requests now come from mobile devices, which are used in a number of distracting contexts. This use of mobile devices in various situational contexts away from a desk presents a range of novel challenges for users and, consequently, possibilities for interface improvements. However, there is at present a lack of work that evaluates interaction in such contexts to understand what effects context and mobility have on behaviour and errors and, ultimately, users’ search performance.

Through a controlled study, in which we simulate walking conditions on a treadmill and obstacle course, we use a combination of interaction logs and multiple video streams to capture interaction behaviour as participants (n = 24) complete simple search tasks. Using a bespoke tagging tool to analyse these recordings, we investigate how situational context and distractions impact user behaviour and performance, contrasting this with users in a baseline, seated condition. Our findings provide insights into the issues these common contexts cause, how users adapt and how such interfaces could be improved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102089
JournalInformation Processing & Management
Issue number6
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


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