The webLyzard information exploration and retrieval interface (=”dashboard”) helps identify, track and analyze topics across stakeholders and sources . It provides access to a comprehensive content repository structured along geospatial, semantic and temporal dimensions. The dashboard is divided into six main content areas:
- Sources and Configuration: The upper menu contains a search field and specifies time interval, sources to be analyzed (news media, social media, etc.), and interface options such as language and sentiment filter (positive, neutral, negative). It also contains a menu item to export search results and other datasets in various formats.
- Topics: The upper left window of the dashboard contains the topic management section, where users have the following options:
(i) click on a topic label to trigger a full text search based on the topic’s configuration;
(ii) use topic markers (= small rectangles) to select topics to be shown in the charts;
(iii) select the first five topics (or deselect all) with the ‘chart’ symbol next to a category name;
(iv) use the ‘settings’ symbol to configure or delete topics, set email alerts, access the Wiki page, and use logical operators – replace, restrict, extend, exclude – to combine multiple topics.
- Trend Charts: Interactive trend charts show (i) the share of voice, a comparative measure of attention based on the relative number of mentions, (ii) the weekly frequency of selected topics in the specified time interval, (iii) the average sentiment regarding these topics, and (iv) the level of disagreement, measuring how strongly the sentiment regarding this topic fluctuates. Setting a moving average dampens the impact of short-term fluctuations and highlights longer-term trends.
- Content View. The section below the trend chart offers various ways to show the search results: documents, sentences, word tree, entities, relation tracker, sources and source map, as well as network graph. Interactive controls in the ‘document’ and ‘sentence’ modes include: (i) mouse-over allows previewing documents; (ii) a first click selects a document and shows its content in extended form; (iii) a second click switches to full text view, which reveals the document’s annotations including keywords, location, sentiment, and relevance.
- Associated Terms: The lower left view of the dashboard displays a list of top associations with the search term, based on the selected source and time interval. Similar to the topic management section, the associated terms can be shown in the trend chart and used to trigger full-text searches.
- Maps and Visual Analytics: Visual means to investigate these associations are the adaptive tag cloud (alphabetical structure) and the keyword graph (hierarchical structure). Other visualizations include the geographic map to render the regional distribution of search results and the cluster map to show emerging stories (= sets of related documents). The maps are synchronized and can be re-positioned using drag-and-drop operations. The ‘pause’ button in the upper right corner disables adaptive map updates (e.g. automated zoom in the geographic map, or repositioning nodes in the keyword graph).
Users can adjust the time interval (default: two months) and access historic data using the date selector. This is a global setting that not only affects the trend chart, but also limits search queries and dynamic visualizations to the chosen time interval. The interval can be specified by choosing a “from” and “to” date, or selecting the past [n] weeks or months.
View Synchronization and Tooltips
The maps on the right side of the dashboard help to access the underlying knowledge base. Clicking on the ‘maximize’ button increases the size of a map and adapts the displayed content. Clicking on the ‘popup’ button opens the map in a separate browser window and allows using the system in multiple-screen configurations. Users can switch maps on and off via the “Visualizations” menu, and re-arrange the layout by dragging them to the desired position. User actions in one window trigger an immediate update of all other windows .
As an alternative to entering query terms to find specific documents, the visualisations provide tooltips with additional display options and logical operators to Replace, Restrict or Extend the current search, or to Exclude certain terms from the search results.
To gain additional insight into the user experience of the dashboard and the suitability of visual representations, usability evaluations are being conducted in regular intervals. The aim of such evaluations is to determine strengths and weaknesses of the interaction design. We distinguish two types of assessment: (i) heuristic evaluation, where experts examine the interface and judge the extent to which it is compliant with established usability principles; (ii) formative usability tests, where users are observed while working on predefined tasks in realistic settings. Their gaze data is recorded and analyzed with eye tracking software to generate heat maps that show which elements of the dashboard are used to complete a given task, and in which sequence.
- Scharl, A., Hubmann-Haidvogel, A., Sabou, M., Weichselbraun, A. and Lang, H.-P. (2013). From Web Intelligence to Knowledge Co-Creation – A Platform to Analyze and Support Stakeholder Communication, IEEE Internet Computing, 17(5): 21-29.
- Hubmann-Haidvogel, A., Scharl, A. and Weichselbraun, A. (2009). Multiple Coordinated Views for Searching and Navigating Web Content Repositories, Information Sciences, 179(12): 1813-1821.