WWW95: characterizing browsing strategies on the Web

1. abstract

this paper presents the results of a study conducted at georgia institute of technology that captured client-side user events of NCSA's XMosaic. actual user behavior, as determined from client-side log file analysis, supplemented our understanding of user navigation strategies as well as provided real interface usage data. log file analysis also yielded design and usability suggestions for WWW pages, sites and browsers.

2. my comment

james e. pitkow from the college of computing of the georgia institute of technology, atlanta, USA presented the findings of a survey conducted at his college.

for three weeks, every user event of an Mosaic client (action on the keyboard or with the mouse) were captured in a log file. users were warned about the log activities and they could participate on the survey or not.

the top five action were:

  1. following a link (51.9%)
  2. going back (40.6%)
  3. open URL (2%)
  4. hotlist (2%)
  5. forward (2%)

to me, it is quite surprising that the hotlist is not used more often. if people navigate through the Web almost exclusively by following links and going back, for a WebMaster, it is very important to provide a structure of the local Web that is clear and has links to the pages that he or she wants the users to visit.

also the survey showed, that an average user visits about twelve documents on one server and they tend to operate in a small area. these means, "must see" documents have to be within two or three "clicks" from the top page. with other words, documents in a flat tree are more likely to be visited compared to documents way down in a deeply structured hierarchy.

this paper is available on the Web.

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browsing_strategies / 27-jan-1999 (ra) / reto ambühler
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