A Goal-based Classification of Web Information Tasks

Kellar, Watters, & Shepherd (2006) offer a high-level classification of user’s activities on the web as goal-based information tasks, these could be helpful when structuring personas. The information goals they discover are: information seeking, exchange, maintenance and, perhaps, monitoring.

A user’s information seeking goal is to change their state of knowledge, and has the associated tasks of fact finding (locating a specific piece of information), information gathering (from multiple sources in order to make a report, a decision, or become more informed on a topic), and browsing (usually for purposes of entertainment or curiosity).

A user’s information exchange goal is to exchange information in a web-based setting, and it consists of transaction (such as e-commerce) and communication (such as email) tasks.

Finally, a user’s maintenance goal is to maintain web resources (such as content, profiles, etc.), and it includes the eponymous task of maintenance.

The authors also hypothesize that the task of monitoring occurs across many different tasks, but did not gather precise data on this task.

This model could be incredibly helpful to frame the task-based personas I need to create for many of my upcoming web projects. It provides a very helpful, high-level way of thinking (which I need to avoid becoming swept up in all the details).

Kellar, M., Watters, C., & Shepherd, M. (2006). A Goal-based Classification of Web Information Tasks. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 43(1), 1-22. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from Wiley InterScience Journals.