Assessing User Satisfaction with Online Search Engines
While the Internet presents a goldmine of information and an assortment of tools designed to assist people in finding information to meet their needs, the effectiveness of these tools remains an issue of concern among both users and producers of online content. With a virtually unlimited amount of information available to online audiences today, search engines became a "killer application" of the Web. The Internet’s most powerful search engine, Google, spans over eight billion Web pages and handles approximately 140,000 searches in one hundred languages per minute. The role of large-scale engines that are capable of performing millions of queries every day can hardly be overestimated. The existing literature indicates that people's views and attitudes toward various access tools as well as the level of IT skills may serve as predictors of online behavior. The present research aims to evaluate user comfort, skillfulness, and satisfaction with online search engines from a usability perspective. The study investigates the following research questions: (1) How usable are online search engines in user's opinion? (2) How proficient are users in online search techniques? (3) How satisfied are users with their search results? (4) Is there a relationship between perceived search engine usability, user proficiency, and overall satisfaction with online search? This inquiry into user experiences with search engines contributes to the understanding of access tools designed to assist users in locating/retrieving information online. Before one can seek to examine a range of questions associated with the implications of unlimited access to information on the Internet, it is important to adequately evaluate the functional usability of search engines and the level of user satisfaction with existing search techniques.
Keywords: Search Engine, Online, User, Satisfaction, Usability, Assessment
Dr. Tatyana Dumova
Assistant Professor, School of Communication, University of North Dakota