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Abstract

In this study several aspects of the usability of an online newspaper are examined. More specifically, the effects of reading-manipulation techniques such as scrolling and using hyperlinks on finding information at different locations are studied. Subjects participated in two sessions with a one-week interval. In each session subjects received a number of searching tasks consisting of finding information at different locations in the newspaper. Speed and accuracy were measured, and afterwards subjects received a recognition task. In general subjects were highly satisfied with the online newspaper. Their performance on the searching tasks was very adequate, even on deeper levels. It took, logically, more time to locate the information by scrolling down or by using a hyperlink to go to a next level than when the hyperlink leading to the desired information was immediately available on screen. The recognition performance was also worse. Locating information after scrolling and after using a hyperlink took approximately the same amount of time, and the recognition performance was about equal. However, an interaction effect was also found between reading-manipulation technique and hypertextual level. In particular, finding information for which scrolling down on a deeper hypertextual level was necessary took extra time and probably extra cognitive resources, leading to a lower recognition performance. It is concluded that it is probably better, if possible, to avoid presenting information on deeper hypertextual levels for which scrolling is necessary.