As part of my research visit to the University of Gothenburg, I am glad to announce that I will be giving a seminar on “The ‘unreasonable’ effectiveness of Graphical User Interfaces for Recommender Systems”. The seminar will take place at the University of Gothenburg, on Friday, 8th of September, at 10:00 am.

Abstract:  The impact of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) for recommender systems is a crucial yet little-explored area. In my talk, I present the results of an empirical study in which we created, deployed, and evaluated seven different GUI variations. We used these variations to display 68,260 related blog post recommendations to 10,595 unique visitors of our blog. The study shows that the GUIs have a strong effect on the recommender systems’ performance, measured in click-through rate (CTR). The best-performing GUI achieved a 66% higher CTR than the worst-performing GUI (statist. significant with p<0.05). In other words, with a few days of work to develop different GUIs, a recommender system operator could increase CTR notably – maybe even more than by tuning the recommendation algorithm. In analogy to the ‘unreasonable effectiveness of data’ discussion by Google and others, we conclude that the effectiveness of graphical user interfaces for recommender systems is equally ‘unreasonable’. Hence, the recommender system community should spend more time researching GUIs for recommender systems. In addition, we conducted a survey and found that the ACM Recommender Systems Conference has a strong focus on algorithms – 81% of all short and full papers published in 2019 and 2020 relate to algorithm development, and none to GUIs for recommender systems. We also surveyed the recommender systems of 50 blogs. While most displayed a thumbnail (86%) and had a mouseover interaction (62%) other design elements were rare. Only a few highlighted top recommendations (8%), displayed rankings or relevance scores (6%), or offered a ‘view more’ option (4%).

Joeran Beel

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