Changes in users’ mental models of Web search engines after ten years

  • S Mlilo
  • A Thatcher
Keywords: Mental model, designer’s conceptual model, Web search engine, search engine salient features


The changes in users’ mental models of Web search engines over ten years were investigated in this study.  Matched data obtained from samples in 2000 and 2010 were used for the comparative analysis. Ward’s Cluster  analyses including the Pseudo T² Statistical analyses were used to determine the mental model clusters for  the seventeen salient design features of Web search engines at each time point. The cubic clustering criterion (CCC) and the dendogram were conducted for each sample to help determine the number of clusters to  interpret. The results indicated that the cluster formations for the 2000 sample differed from those of the 2010  sample. The detailed analyses of the salient features demonstrated that the accuracy and completeness of  users’ mental models of Web search engines had improved slightly from 2000 to 2010. The analyses conducted indicate that users’ mental models of Web search engines still remain largely inaccurate and incomplete, but may have aligned more closely with designers’ conceptualisations.

Keywords: Mental model; designer’s conceptual model; Web search engine; search engine salient features


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1010-2728