HCIL-99-30

Hochheiser, H., Shneiderman, B.
November 1999
A revised version appears in ASIS'99 Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science, Annual Conference October 31-November 4, 1999, Vol. 36, 331-344. Published as Understanding patterns of user visits to web sites: Interactive starfield visualizations of WWW log data, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 54, 4 (February 2001), 331-343.
HCIL-99-30, ISR-TR-99-70
HTTP server log files provide Web site operators with substantial detail regarding the visitors to their sites. Interest in interpreting this data has spawned an active market for software packages that summarize and analyze this data, providing histograms, pie graphs, and other charts summarizing usage patterns. While useful, these summaries obscure useful information and restrict users to passive interpretation of static displays. Interactive visualizations can be used to provide users with greater abilities to interpret and explore web log data. By combining two-dimensional displays of thousands of individual access requests, color and size coding for additional attributes, and facilities for zooming and filtering, these visualizations provide capabilities for examining data that exceed those of traditional web log analysis tools. We introduce a series of interactive visualizations that can be used to explore server data across various dimensions. Possible uses of these visualizations are discussed, and difficulties of data collection, presentation, and interpretation are explored.
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