Combining ethnographic and clickstream data to identify user Web browsing strategies

Lillian Clark, I. Ting, P. Wright, D. Kudenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: The strategies that people use to browse Websites are difficult to analyse and understand: quantitative data can lack information about what a user actually intends to do, while qualitative data tends to be localised and is impractical to gather for large samples. Method: This paper describes a novel approach that combines data from direct observation, user surveys and server logs to analyse users' browsing behaviour. It is based on a longitudinal study of university students' use of a Website related to one of their courses. Analysis: The data were analysed by using Footstep graphs to categorise browsing behaviour into pre-defined strategies and comparing these with data from questionnaires and direct observation of the students' actual use of the site. Results: Initial results indicated that in certain cases the patterns from server logs matched the observed browsing strategies as described in the literature. In addition, by cross-referencing the quantitative and qualitative data, a number of insights were gained into potential problems. Conclusion: This study shows how combining quantitative and qualitative approaches can provide an insight into changes in user browsing behaviour over time. It also identifies some potential methodological problems in studies of browsing behaviour and indicates some directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Research
Volume11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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