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Live help systems: an approach to intelligent help for Web information systems
Linköping University, Department of Computer and Information Science. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Since the creation of the World-Wide Web we have seen a great growth in the complexity of Web sites. There has also been a large expansion in number of Web sites and in amount of usage. As a consequence, more and more Web site users are having problems accomplishing their tasks, and it is increasingly important to provide them with support.

Our research approach to online help for Web site users is the introduction and study of what we call live help systems. A live help system is an intelligent help system which integrates human experts in the process of advice giving by allowing users to communicate with dedicated expert assistants through the help system. Traditional fully automatic intelligent help systems have several common problems. For example, there are problems with large system complexity, knowledge engineering bottlenecks, and credibility. We hypothesise that live help systems, offer a solution to these problems.

Our aim with this thesis is to explore the design, technical feasibility, and usability of live help systems, in order to provide a foundation on which future research and practise can build. We have systematically explored the design space of live help systems. We have implemented and successfully deployed a live help system at an existing Web site, thereby demonstrating technical feasibility. During the deployment period, data was collected from the users and the human experts. Our analysis shows that live help systems are greatly appreciated by Web users, and that they are indeed effective in helping users accomplish their tasks. We also provide empirical results regarding the effectiveness of employing automatic help functions as a filter for the human experts. Further, the concept of user modelling as an aid for human experts has been explored as part of the field study. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2002. , 33 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 745
National Category
Computer Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35595Local ID: 27885ISBN: 91-7373-311-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-35595DiVA: diva2:256443
Public defence
2002-05-07, Visionen, Hus B, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2012-12-21
List of papers
1. The role of human Web assistants in e-commerce: an analysis and a usability study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of human Web assistants in e-commerce: an analysis and a usability study
2000 (English)In: Internet Research, ISSN 1066-2243, Vol. 10, no 2, 114-125 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Electronic commerce has recently shown enormous potential to take over a significant share of the sales market. There is a need to provide services that can reach individual computer users with different information profiles and levels of expertise. In this article the concept of Web assistants, human assistants working in an electronic Web shop, is presented. This human-computer collaboration provides intelligent and adaptive services via an integrated communication media. A prototype of a Web assistant system has been implemented. While browsing through the system the user can call for human assistance should the need arise. Presents the results of a usability study performed on the prototype system. Recent commercial moves in the direction discussed in this article increase the importance of the usability study. The results are encouraging, especially when it comes to the attitude aspects of usability. The subjects were extremely enthusiastic about the concept of Web assistants and its implications. The human Web assistant who participated in the field trial highlighted the importance of user modelling. Although the system is mainly in the context of electronic commerce, it can be used in many other contexts. These include home automation, digital libraries, and technical support, to name a few.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-47538 (URN)10.1108/10662240010322902 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2017-12-13
2. A design space analysis of live help systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A design space analysis of live help systems
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper presents a design space analysis of live help systems. Several important design components are identified. Alternative design options are considered and assessed theoretically against suitable criteria. The assessments are mainly based on a survey of a large number of research papers. We illustrate how the design space analysis can be of value in the design of live help systems in four different kinds of application domains (i.e. electronic banks, digital libraries, web shops, and home health care systems). We describe a design exercise where we compared a design resulting from the design space analysis with the real design of an example system. The comparison showed that the design space analysis leads to reasonable designs, but that special characteristics of the application at hand may require adaptations of the design space analysis. A description of the implementation of the example system is provided. The theoretical design space analysis is then complemented by a summary of the lessons learned from deployment of the example system. We also point out future directions for further extending the scope of this design space analysis. The paper is intended for practitioners and researchers doing work on online help for Web information systems.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86687 (URN)
Note

This manuscript will not be published.

Available from: 2012-12-21 Created: 2012-12-21 Last updated: 2017-01-17
3. An empirical study of human Web assistants: implications for user support in Web information systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An empirical study of human Web assistants: implications for user support in Web information systems
2001 (English)In: Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, USA: ACM Press , 2001, 1, 404-411 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

User support is an important element in reaching the goal of universal usability for Web information systems. Recent developments indicate that human involvement in user support is a step towards this goal. However, most such efforts are currently being pursued on a purely intuitive basis. This, empirical findings about the role of human assistants are important. In this paper we present the findings from a field study of a general user support model for Web information systems. We show that integrating human assistance into Web systems is a way to provide efficient user support. Further, this integration makes a Web site more fun to use and increases the user's trust in the site. The support also improves the site atmosphere. Our findings are summarised as recommendations and design guidelines for decision-makers and developers Web systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, USA: ACM Press, 2001 Edition: 1
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54752 (URN)10.1145/365024.365305 (DOI)1-58113-327-8 (ISBN)
Conference
CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, March 31-April 5, Seattle, Washington, USA
Available from: 2010-04-08 Created: 2010-04-08 Last updated: 2015-04-22
4. Collection and exploitation of expert knowledge in Web assistant system
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collection and exploitation of expert knowledge in Web assistant system
2001 (English)In: Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, IEEE , 2001, 1, 201-203 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Recent research and commercial developments have highlighted the importance of human involvement in user support for Web information systems. In our earlier work a Web assistant system was introduced, which is a hybrid support system with human Web assistants and computer based support (J. Aberg and N. Shahmehri, 2000). An important issue with Web assistant systems is how to make optimal use of these support resources. We use a knowledge management approach with frequently asked questions for a question answering system that acts as a question filter for the human assistants. Knowledge is continuously collected from the assistants and exploited to augment the question answering capabilities. Our system has been deployed and evaluated by an analysis of conversation logs and questionnaires for users and assistants. The results show that our approach is feasible and useful. Lessons learned are summarised in a set of recommendations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE, 2001 Edition: 1
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54753 (URN)10.1109/HICSS.2001.927089 (DOI)0-7695-0981-9 (ISBN)
Conference
The 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 6 January 2001, Maui, Hawaii, USA
Available from: 2010-04-08 Created: 2010-04-08 Last updated: 2015-06-16
5. User modelling for live help systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>User modelling for live help systems
2001 (English)In: Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Electronic Commerce (Welcom'01) / [ed] G. Goos, J. Hartmanis, and J. van Leeuwen, Springer Verlag , 2001, 1, 164-179 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

We have explored the role of user modelling in live help systems for e-commerce web sites. There are several potential benefits with user modelling in this context: 1) Human assistants can use the personal information in the user models to provide the users with efficient support tailored to their personal needs; 2) Assistants can be more comfortable in their supporting role; 3) Consultation resources can be saved, and thus, financial savings can be made for the e-commerce company. A user modelling approachh as been implemented and deployed in a real web environment as part of a live help system. Following the deployment we have analysed consultation dialogue logs and answers to a questionnaire for participating assistants. This paper elaborates on these results, which show that assistants consider user modelling to be helpful and that consultation dialogues can be an important source for user model data collection. Based on lessons learned from the study, future directions for researchand development are carefully analysed and laid out.

Originally we used the term web assistant system. However, similar system have recently begun to appear on e-commerce sites, commonly referred to as live help systems. To avoid future confusion we now refer to our work using this newly adopted terminology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Verlag, 2001 Edition: 1
Series
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ISSN 0302-9743 (print), 1611-3349 (online)
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-54748 (URN)10.1007/3-540-45598-1_16 (DOI)978-3-540-42878-7 (ISBN)
Conference
Second International Workshop on Electronic Commerce (Welcom'01), Heidelberg, Germany, November 16-17
Available from: 2010-04-08 Created: 2010-04-08 Last updated: 2012-12-21

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