What Users Do:
The Eyes Have It
CSIRO and Australian National University,
School of Computer Science and Information Technology,
Victoria 3001, Australia.
Department of Computing and Information Systems,
The University of Melbourne,
Victoria 3010, Australia.
Proc. 9th Asian Information Retrieval Societies Conf.,
December 2013, pages 416-427, LNCS volume 8281.
Search engine result pages -- the ten blue links -- are a staple of
document retrieval services.
The usual presumption is that users read these one-by-one "from the
top", making judgments about the usefulness of documents based on
the snippets presented, accessing the underlying document when a
snippet seems attractive, and then moving on to the next snippet.
In this paper we re-examine that assumption, and give the results of
a user experiment in which gaze-tracking is combined with click
We conclude that in very general terms, users do indeed read from the
top, but that at a detailed level there are complex behaviors
evident, suggesting that a more sophisticated model of user
interaction might be appropriate.
In particular, we argue that users retain a number of snippets in an
"active band" that shifts down the result page, and that reading
and clicking activity tends to takes place within the band in a
manner that is not strictly sequential.