Publication Details

Meloche, J. A. & Cheng, L. (2005). A contextual approach to design and development of interfaces for search engines, using Activity Theory as the basis for informing design decisions. In G. Whymark & H. M. Hasan (Eds.), Activity as the Focus of Information Systems Research (pp. 93-115). Rockhampton, Queensland: Knowledge Creation Press.


The goal of this study is to support the design of more effective search engines. The research presented in this chapter investigates the design of search engines in the context of information seeking
activities. This study is also informed by Activity Theory and considers Information Seeking to be a Keystone Activity. This improvement in search engine design takes into consideration the context of users, and elicits and captures users' explicit and implied requirements. The study uses Q-methodology to elicit the subjective understanding of the participants thought the phases provided by the methodology. This entails collecting, sorting and analysis of detailed statements as seen through the personal
lenses' of the participants of this study. Among the possible approaches and methodologies that could be used for this study, Activity Theory and Q Methodology were selected for their ability to gain insights from the users perspectives (Q Methodology) and isolate and relate the key components of activity in a meaningful way (Activity Theory). The study has demonstrated this combination of methodologies to be a powerful and revealing approach to the study.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Knowledge Creation Press