Web Navigation Systems for Information Seeking

Web Navigation Systems for Information Seeking

Guangzhi Zheng (Southern Polytechnic State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch758
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Information seeking is a human activity with a goal of obtaining information. Being a subset of the human information behavior field, it is particularly concerned with methods people employ to discover and gain access to information resources (Wilson, 1999). Web information seeking is information seeking in the World Wide Web environment using a browser as the major user interface. Compared to other software environments, web is a much larger and more complex environment with massive information and complex interlinking structures. This poses even more problems for users to find the information they want.

There are basically two generic tactics to seek information on the web: querying and navigation. Querying, or searching, is the process of “submitting a description of the object (for instance, keywords) to a search engine which will return relevant content or information” (Jul & Furnas, 1997). Navigation, or browsing, is the action of moving oneself around an environment in an order, “deciding at each step where to go next based on the task and the parts of the environment seen so far” (Jul & Furnas, 1997). Users use these two tactics together to obtain information on the web. The choice of searching or browsing depends on factors like task type, web site design, user preference, and skill (Nielsen, 2013). While searching has drawn more attention for the past a few years, navigation is still a fundamental way, and even the “last mile,” of getting useful information. For example, users still need to navigate through searching results to evaluate the relevance and usefulness of them.

The Web has become very large and complex. It is getting more difficult if people just rely on their intuition and follow embedded hyperlinks to locate information resources. Web navigation systems are commonly provided to guide users through the web information space. The major goal of a web navigation system is to present an effective content index or guide and support various web navigation behaviors. It allows users to approach an abstract information space in a similar way as they travel in a physical space (Juvina, 2006). Good navigation systems not only make information easier to find and allow users to acquire more useful information, but also contribute to the overall website success.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sitemap Webpage: A sitemap presented in a human readable HTML web page.

Information seeking: A type of human behavior of obtaining information to satisfy information need.

Sitemap: A structured document that describes the content structure of a web information space.

Web Navigation System: A user interface tool that provides navigational information and support web navigation behaviors.

Web Usability: Application of usability in the Web environment using browsers.

Browser Integrated Web Navigation: Navigating web sites and information through a user interface component integrated with browsers.

Information Behavior: A class of human behaviors to interact with information.

Web Navigation: The process of visiting information resources following a certain sequence in the web environment using a browser.

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