All modern browsers have some form of “browser history”: a feature that allows a user to view a list of the web sites they have visited. Often a limited search functionality (including date/time, domain, and page title) is exposed to the user. These categories are often not sufficient to find a page that a user has visited in the recent past.
This is one case in which the browser’s model for accessing a history item differs from the user’s model. The conflict probably results in the user learning that the history tool is not useful. Instead, she uses some other means of locating the page in question, possibly trying to retrace the steps originally used to discover the page. One can imagine other scenarios in which a similar interaction plays out. Clearly this is an unsatisfying interaction that gives the impression that the data saved in the browser’s history isn’t useful. Thus, this information is, in practice, unexploited.
More information can be found in our project proposal.
We've completed our Firefox extension! It displays history results whenever you search Google. If you're running Firefox, give it a try!
We're working on a new version! See a list of our updates and how they relate to our heuristic evaluation so far.
The design of the tests we plan to run on our digital prototype can be found here. You can install the two versions of our prototype below. Just be sure to uninstall one before installing the other.