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Examining Users on News Provider Web Sites: A Review of Methodology

William Gibbs

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 3, Issue 3, May 2008, pp. 129-148

Abstract

This project implemented and reviewed several methods to collect data about users' information seeking behavior on news provider Web sites. While browsing news sites, participants exhibited a tendency toward a breadth-first search approach where they used the home page or a search results page as a hub to which they returned and then linked to other pages. Generally, they browsed before using search. Information seeking patterns were consistent within-user but varied somewhat across users. Most behaviors were characterized as visually scanning with users spending much time scrolling.

The methods used to identify information seeking behavior: (a) information seeking trails, (b) interaction variance, (c) Web pages recurrence, (d) URL frequency, (e) browse behavior identification, and (f) sequence analysis appear particularly useful for detailed analysis of browsing behavior. They afforded information about browsing directionality, complexity, and temporal order. A profile of user browsing behaviors was outlined in the project.

Practitioner's Take Away

The analysis of information seeking behaviors yielded valuable data in several ways:

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Examining Users on News Provider Web Sites: A Review of Methodology