Parr, C., Lee, B., Campbell, D., Bederson, B. (October 2003)
Biodiversity databases have recently become widely available to the public and to other researchers. To retrieve information from these resources, users must understand the underlying data schemas. Many other domains share this problem. We developed an interface, TaxonTree, to visualize the taxonomic hierarchy of animal names. We applied integrated searching and browsing so that users need not have complete knowledge either of appropriate keywords or the organization of the data. Our qualitative user study of TaxonTree in an undergraduate course is the first to describe usage patterns and issues in the biodiversity domain. Users indicated that the system was usable and tree visualization aided their understanding of the data. Interestingly, users with different levels of interest in the domain had different interaction preferences. The study provides further evidence for the value of integrated searching and browsing and interactive tree visualization for information retrieval and understanding.