Using information systems while performing complex tasks: An example from architectural design

Erica de Vries, Ton de Jong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Nowadays, information systems, such as hypertexts, allow a variety of ways in which to structure information. Information systems are also used for an increasing number of purposes. In our study we examined two different purposes for using information systems in the context of a real task: architectural design. In design processes, information gathering plays a different role depending on design phase, and both exploration and finding information are important sub-processes. A study is presented in which the main goal was to determine whether there are advantages of certain information structures when carrying out a particular activity. Both tasks and variables used in the experiment were related to characteristics of the design process as identified in the literature. Two different kinds of information gathering behaviour, browsing and searching were studied, and criterion tests corresponded to the desired outcome in the design context, i.e. enlargement of the users' information span for browsing and their knowledge of specific topics for searching. Results showed a number of interactions between information structure and information gathering task depending on the particular criterion test examined. Inspection of each purpose on its own criterion test revealed the merits of network structures for browsing, but also for searching. These results parallel the recommendations emanating from design disciplines to provide information structures for design that do not impose a hierarchical structure, but that show the complexity of design information. Recommendations for hypertext research include the study of navigational characteristics in combination with tasks and variables that are meaningful in a specific context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-54
JournalInternational journal of human-computer studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • METIS-135434
  • IR-26783


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