Study Finds Patterns in Web Site User Motivations and Questions
Computerworld - At the recent User Interface 9 conference in Boston, User Interface Engineering (UIE) previewed some groundbreaking research into the real questions that motivate people when they come to a Web site. The company studied over 3,000 posts on discussion forums about chronic neurological illnesses and discovered distinct patterns -- patterns that also appeared when they examined financial and other types of forums.
What prompted Middleton, Mass.-based UIE to ask this question?
Realizing that poor, insufficient or improperly placed content is the cause of roughly half of all usability problems, UIE set out to gain a better understanding of content. It started with the hypothesis that there are two kinds of knowledge involved when using a Web site: tool knowledge and domain knowledge.
Tool knowledge is what you know about how to use the Web site -- the tool itself. For example, how well you know how to use a stock portfolio Web application to manage your investments.
Domain knowledge is what you know about the subject matter itself. Following the same example, this would be what you understand about the basic principles of investing and current market trends.
The Knowledge Gap
When users approach a Web site, there is typically a gap between what they know now (current knowledge) and what they need to know in order to accomplish their goals (target knowledge). This is called the knowledge gap. Developers must take this gap into consideration when designing a site or application, and apply content and user interface technology to overcome the gap.
For example, Quicken's online tax-preparation system assumes you know very little about the domain of tax law. It asks simple questions in a questionnaire format that requires almost no learning on the part of the user. On the other hand, software written for professional accountants assumes a much higher knowledge of the tax code and provides an interface that's more efficient while requiring some initial tool training.
Usability testing is especially helpful for finding barriers in a design that keep people from overcoming the gap in tool knowledge. It doesn't always shed light on gaps in domain knowledge.
So UIE asked the question, "Where do people go when they can't find the information they need on your site?" Discussion forums seemed the obvious answer.
14 Topic Perspectives
UIE researchers pored over thousands of posts about different ailments, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and autism. They noticed the emergence of 14 types of posts. The frequency varied, but every forum had all 14 types, and every post fit into one of the 14 categories. Some of the categories
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- Increase IT Performance from the Enterprise to the Cloud with WAN Optimization Massive consolidation and data mobility, enabled by virtualization, have radically altered how we build servers, design applications, and deploy storage for the emerging...
- Live Webcast Best Practices: How to Improve Business Continuity with Virtualization VMware solutions include a range of business continuity capabilities to help ensure availability for applications across your virtualized environment. Learn More>>
- Live Webcast
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior This scientific white paper, using statistical data from Amakai's streaming network, analyzes how changes in video quality cause changes in viewer behavior.
- Service-Enabling CICS Applications: Best Practices This informative webcast provides an informed, thorough look into CICS service-enablement options and how they can affect your environment. You'll learn how to...