Discovering the unfindable: The tension between findability and discoverability in a bookshop designed for serendipity

Stephann Makri, Yi Chun Chen, Dana McKay, George Buchanan, Melissa Ocepek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Serendipity is a key aspect of user experience, particularly in the context of information acquisition - where it is known as information encountering. Unexpectedly encountering interesting or useful information can spark new insights while surprising and delighting. However, digital environments have been designed primarily for goal-directed seeking over loosely-directed exploration, searching over discovering. In this paper we examine a novel physical environment - a bookshop designed primarily for serendipity - for cues as to how information encountering might be helped or hindered by digital design. Naturalistic observations and interviews revealed it was almost impossible for participants to find specific books or topics other than by accident. But all unexpectedly encountered interesting books, highlighting a tension between findability and discoverability. While some of the bookshop’s design features enabled information encountering, others inhibited it. However, encountering was resilient, as it occurred despite participants finding it hard to understand the purpose of even those features that did enable it. Findings suggest the need to consider how transparent or opaque the purpose of design features should be and to balance structure and lack of it when designing digital environments for findability and discoverability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHuman-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2019 - 17th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, Proceedings
EditorsDavid Lamas, Fernando Loizides, Lennart Nacke, Helen Petrie, Marco Winckler, Panayiotis Zaphiris
PublisherSpringer-Verlag
Pages3-23
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9783030293833
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event17th IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, INTERACT 2019 - Paphos, Cyprus
Duration: Sep 2 2019Sep 6 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11747 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

Conference

Conference17th IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, INTERACT 2019
CountryCyprus
CityPaphos
Period9/2/199/6/19

Keywords

  • Discoverability
  • Findability
  • Information encountering
  • Serendipity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

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  • Cite this

    Makri, S., Chen, Y. C., McKay, D., Buchanan, G., & Ocepek, M. (2019). Discovering the unfindable: The tension between findability and discoverability in a bookshop designed for serendipity. In D. Lamas, F. Loizides, L. Nacke, H. Petrie, M. Winckler, & P. Zaphiris (Eds.), Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2019 - 17th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, Proceedings (pp. 3-23). (Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics); Vol. 11747 LNCS). Springer-Verlag. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29384-0_1