What Do Web Users Do? An Empirical Analysis of Web Use
This paper provides an empirical characterisation of user actions at the web browser. The study is based on an analysis of four months of logged client-side data that describes user actions with recent versions of Netscape Navigator. In particular, the logged data allows us to determine the title, URL and time of each page visit, how often they visited each page, how long they spent at each page, the growth and content of bookmark collections, as well as a variety of other aspects of user interaction with the web. The results update and extend prior empirical characterisations of web use. Among the results we show that web page revisitation is a much more prevalent activity than previously reported (approximately 81% of pages have been previously visited by the user), that most pages are visited for a surprisingly short period of time, that users maintain large (and possibly overwhelming) bookmark collections, and that there is a marked lack of commonality in the pages visited by different users. These results have implications for a wide range of web-based tools including the interface features provided by web-browsers, the design of caching proxy servers, and the design of efficient web-sites.