Lost while searching: Difficulties in information seeking among end-user programmers

Brian Dorn, Adam Stankiewicz, Chris Roggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


End-user programmers, those who write code but lack formal training in computer science, are often reliant on various tools such as API documentation or searching the Web for information in order to complete a specific task. This study examines the information foraging behaviors of a group of web and graphic designers engaged in a series of code modification tasks. We find that users were largely unsuccessful in their foraging activities, with few information seeking events resulting in noticeable changes to participants' source code. Participants viewed remarkably few results generated by their queries and rarely refined queries multiple times. However, these kinds of activities were positively correlated with task success metrics. We conclude with a discussion of the study's results and their implications on the design of future programming environments and search tools for end-user programmers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • End-user programming
  • Information foraging
  • Novice programmer
  • Search behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

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