Seeking Information-triage


Thesis project by Liese Zahabi. Created as part of the Master of Graphic Design program at North Carolina State University, May 2010.


Searching for information online can be overwhelming and confusing…

In many ways, the promise of the Internet—easily sharing information via a network of globally connected hyperlinks—has been overshadowed by a sense of information overload and anxiety for many users. The production and publication of online material has become increasingly accessible and affordable—creating a confusing glut of information that users must sift through to locate exactly what they want or need. 

Part of the anxiety Internet users feel has to do with the shifting nature of the human attention span and the limits of working memory. As users engage with data and information online, they are bombarded with multiple levels of layered material and alternate avenues of discovery. When attempting to gather information to aid an important decision—especially when a search yields conflicting opinions—this chaotic atmosphere can prove paralyzing.

The concept of information-triage can help mitigate this anxiety and paralysis. Information-triage is the process of sorting, grouping, categorizing, prioritizing, storing and retrieving information in order to make sense and use of it. 

Through this study, I examine the points at which design plays a role in the online search process, reconcile those points with the nature of human attention and the limitations of working memory, and suggest ways to support users with an information-triage system. I have created a set of three speculative and comparative online searching interfaces to explore these issues and the possibilities for information-triage

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