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This image smells good: Effects of image information scent in search engine results pages

Loumakis, F., Stumpf, S. & Grayson, D. (2011). This image smells good: Effects of image information scent in search engine results pages. In: Proceedings of the 20th ACM international conference on Information and knowledge management. (pp. 475-484). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2063576.2063649


Users are confronted with an overwhelming amount of web pages when they look for information on the Internet. Current search engines already aid the user in their information seeking tasks by providing textual results but adding images to results pages could further help the user in judging the relevance of a result. We investigated this problem from an Information Foraging perspective and we report on two empirical studies that focused on the information scent of images. Our results show that images have their own distinct "smell" which is not as strong as that of text. We also found that combining images and text cues leads to a stronger overall scent. Surprisingly, when images were added to search engine results pages, this did not lead our participants to behave significantly differently in terms of effectiveness or efficiency. Even when we added images that could confuse the participants' scent, this had no significantly detrimental impact on their behaviour. However, participants expressed a preference for results pages which included images. We discuss potential challenges and point to future research to ensure the success of adding images to textual results in search engine results pages. © 2011 ACM.

Publication Type: Book Section
Publisher Keywords: images; information foraging; information scent; search engine results pages; usability; visual search
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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