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Information on the go: A case study of Europeana mobile users

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Abstract

According to estimates the mobile device will soon be the main platform for searching the web, and yet our knowledge of how mobile consumers use information, and how that differs from desktops/laptops users, is imperfect. The paper sets out to correct this through an analysis of the logs of a major cultural website, Europeana. The behavior of nearly 70,000 mobile users was examined over a period of more than a year and compared with that for PC users of the same site and for the same period. The analyses conducted include: size and growth of use, time patterns of use; geographical location of users, digital collections used; comparative information-seeking behavior using dashboard metrics, clustering of users according to their information seeking, and user satisfaction. The main findings were that mobile users were the fastest-growing group and will rise rapidly to a million by December 2012 and that their visits were very different in the aggregate from those arising from fixed platforms. Mobile visits could be described as being information “lite”: typically shorter, less interactive, and less content viewed per visit. Use took a social rather than office pattern, with mobile use peaking at nights and weekends. The variation between different mobile devices was large, with information seeking on the iPad similar to that for PCs and laptops and that for smartphones very different indeed. The research further confirms that information-seeking behavior is platform-specific and the latest platforms are changing it all again. Websites will have to adapt.

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