Online search has become an increasingly important part of the everyday lives of most computer users. Search engines, bibliographic databases, and digital libraries provide adequate support for users whose information needs are well defined. However, there are research and development opportunities to improve current search interfaces so users can succeed more often in situations when: they lack the knowledge or contextual awareness to formulate queries or navigate complex information spaces, the search task requires browsing and exploration, or system indexing of available information is inadequate. For example, what if we want to find something from a domain where we have a general interest but not specific knowledge? How would we find classical music we might enjoy if we do not know what Beethoven or Berlioz sound like? What about the difference between Baroque and Romantic? What do we type into a search engine?
The HCIL has a long, rich history of transforming the experience people have with new technologies. From understanding user needs, to developing and evaluating these technologies, the lab's faculty, staff, and students have been leading the way in HCI research and teaching.