Meeting the Needs of the Web User

This project addresses the paradox from Jakob Nielsen’s book “Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity” where he introduces the “silver bullet” for making a successful website: the HOME RUN:

High-quality content, Often updated, Minimal download time, Ease of use, Relevant to users needs, Unique to the online medium, Net-centric corporate culture

The paradox arises because the H, O and R are related more to content than usability, and the N is more or less a matter of creating an appealing web application that is in line with the corporate culture. However, Jakob Nielsen’s book almost solemnly described the design related to usability.

This project will demonstrate that content and usability overall are perceived as equally important. The research in this project indicates that the language spoken in a web user’s country is paramount for determining the preferences of the web user. This is surprising, since much focus on usability design has been on the research into the physical characteristics of the users when, as this project suggests, the major determinant of a web user’s preferences is his or her native language. Another key finding of the research is that the difference in a preference for either usability or content is actually a tradeoff where the usability users are willing to trade the presence of ads and other interferences for the fact that a website should be in their native language whereas a content preferring user is more concerned with not receiving ads and the like and is willing to trade this for a website being in a language different from his or her native language.

Based on the findings of this project, a decision tree model based on a Bayesian approach will be developed, this model can be used to assist in the process of website design, in that it will be able to give insight into the probable user behavior and preferences based on a few facts about the user. Furthermore, the data mining methodology developed during this research can be used as an asset combined with conjoint analysis in other behavioral studies.

In conclusion, a suggestion for future research would be some more in-depth analysis of the language phenomenon, as it is most likely that we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg in web users’ behavior. Behind the language phenomenon there could some interesting culturally related parameters waiting to be discovered by behavioral scientists.

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Updated 2002-10-25

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The official homepage of Morten Middelfart and CALM. Computer Aided Leadership and Management (CALM) is an inspirational speculation on where mankind may be heading in the quest to leverage computer potentials for helping individuals and organizations to self-actualize their symbiotic potentials.

The time frame for this well-informed and provocative speculation on relatively near-term and more distant potentials is clearly within mankind's grasp. Dr. Middelfart argues persuasively that within the next one or two decades, symbiotic links with "intelligent machines" will surely leverage people's potentials, far beyond all human progress to date!

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