By Juan C. Dürsteler
In the issue numbers 164, 165 and 166 we spoke about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and we also saw the importance of detecting user behaviour patterns. We spoke as well about the relevance of information visualisation in presenting the results. There we treated this from the perspective of the customers themselves (how do I find and select what I want?) and from the perspective of the business manager (what do my customers prefer, and how do they behave?).
Nevertheless, if we put ourselves in the shoes of the webmaster, understood as the person responsible for the web and its architecture, we’ll see that it’s crucial to know the real structure of the web, its contents and the usage the customers make of it. It can seem a nonsense thinking that a webmaster doesn’t know the structure of his own web, specially if he/she contributed to its creation. I can certify from my own experience that the website one has in his/her mind or even in the documentation, is not usually exactly the same as the real thing, mainly due to errors and misinterpretations, specially in large websites.
Web mining can be defined as the integration of the information gathered by traditional data mining methods and techniques with information related to the web. In a simplified way we could say that it’s data mining adapted to the particularities of the web.
Web mining is a discipline with an important potential. Despite the increasing and huge volume of existing web sites the proportion of them using web mining tools to analyse their structure, contents and usage in order to improve the service to the user an the profitability of the business is still low.
On the other hand, web mining suffers from the same problems of the general excess of information: we need visualisation tools to enable us to digest and interpret the many results it provides.
In forthcoming issues we’ll see the role that information visualisation is playing in this field.
Etzioni, O. (1996). “The World Wide Web: Quagmire or Gold Mine” Communications of the ACM, 39(11), 65-68.
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