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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

Article Contents


Purpose

The informational content of news provider Web sites change daily. Interactive and animated advertisements are among the host of media elements that permeate them. There has been a convergence of journalist styles including television, newsprint, and blogs that influence, among other things, the structure and delivery of newsworthy information. These factors, along with the overall design of news sites, are likely to affect information seeking. It is important to examine users within this dynamic context to better understand their behavior and how they respond to and interact with the plethora of information. With improved understanding, Web sites can be redesigned to more effectively accommodate users (Chi, Pirolli, Chen, & Pitkow, 2001).

This project had two primary purposes. First, guided by previous research (e.g., Card et al., 2001; Nielsen & Loranger, 2006; Pirolli & Card, 1999; Tausher & Greenberg, 1997; White & Drucker, 2007), it employed several methods for observing users during information seeking on news Web sites and attempted to ascertain what, if anything, their behavior suggested about site design. Second, it reviewed the utility of these observational methods. While there are numerous approaches for collecting user behavior data such as analyzing server log click-streams, some may not adequately depict the full scope of user browsing (Card et al., 2001). Therefore, in the author's view, a review of methodology was germane to the examination of Web behaviors.

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