Web personalization: An introduction

The goal of this paper is to explore the concept of personalization for web services and e-commerce from very in the application’s development process. Web personalization is the process of designing web interface according to specific user need, use and taking advantage from users interaction and navigation habit to deliver need based content and information. Since web personalization is being popular in e-commerce and other domain so it should be discussed very critically with its challenge, opportunities and process. The presented study provides introduction of personalization, briefs of different methods involves in personalized web development with its challenge and opportunities.

In the world of e-commerce now users are more proficient in their website use and demanding more features based on their choice and requirement so consequently the definition for user satisfaction and good service is modifying as users are exposed to wider range of experience. At present people are much interested in e-business and e-services as they are faster than real world market and anyone can buy or sell anything in fractions of second and also it provides the wide range of product and choice to user according to their interest and necessitates. When we talk about user need and satisfaction on the web then personalization and customization comes into picture, as it is the first step to know customer interests and build one to one relationship.

Although these terms personalization and customization commonly considers for interface designing for a specific user and some time people use these terms interchangeably but in reality they refer to different aspects of design. Customization is used to describe interface attributes that are under user control for instance background color, picture, font size and font color etc while Personalization involves the process of collection of user information that’s is used to deliver appropriate content and service, ultimately aimed to get user satisfaction.

The main distinction between customization and personalization is often, customization occurs when one can change the interface and create profile manually by adding or removing some program and the control of content, look are explicitly user driven while In Personalization user act passively or having less control and website content changes according to user habit and interaction. Normally in user personalization, website monitors and analyze user habit regularly and acts accordingly.

Why personalization?
In the world of rising e-commerce, customer satisfaction is being an ultimate goal of every web service, all the web clients are having different sort of need and choice, and to successfully accomplish them is likely to lead to a satisfying relation and motivating them to reuse the services. There are number of reasons to personalize an interface as user are having requirements of different kinds of content and information. For instance, suppose a engineer visits a website for buying a car then he might be interested in technical information while if a laymen will do the same thing then he may interested in looks and speed. It is possible different people have different prospects to same thing which varies according to their age, place, interest, work etc. In other words, customer wants information, related to their interest and need which should be delivered very fast and doesn’t required prerequisites.
Another reason to personalization could be, different information provides to different levels of authorization. For example, a well designed website should have different features for web master then common user because web master have to have the accesses for adding and removing programs, control passwords and other administrative work but a regular need not have such kind of option therefore it should not seen to them so it is important to design a personal interface to specific user according to their privileges.

Usually in e-commerce its important to cater users habit and accordingly services should be serve to clients, like amazone.com first collect users requirements and interests from the explicit information (which is provided during registration) and implicit information (provided in product ranking and recommendation of product) then personalized web page to serve to client’s name at the top of the page and below the name list provided for recommended product according to client interest and ranking.

Finally a website can be personalized up to a great extent according to user interest and for different national and international language that can help in increase the usability and building one to one relation between client and host

Building personalized web applications, those respond to the need of specific user, is a challenging task because it involves high level issues like security, privacy, usability etc. For developing personal interface requires complete picture of the a clients as every user has different attributes, interest, desires, need and these all should be captured, analyzed and processed to complete the user profile. The techniques that are used to complete this picture involve users directly or indirectly for the information collection.

Usually there are different aspects that can be personalized. The two most common aspects to personalize are structure and content personalization.
Structure personalization involves the altering the location of available links as well as location of the content, provides most relevant link to the user in a prominent place. The links are organized on the basis of web history, rating and opinion mentioned by user like in e-commerce business, link and content organized on the basis web history of specific user. For instance, in Amazone.com, link personalization is widely used to make personal profile and information of particular client by providing personal home page for every web client where the list the related item, new releases and recommendation are given on based of user choice. Same kind of personalization is often found other web sites also like my yahoo com and google.Com
Personalized link

Content personalization changes the content of web site depending upon the user interest and preference. For instance, myyahoo.com provides the facility of changing content according to user preferences, one can select and delete the relevant topics which can again personalized through selection of subtopics like for main topic news, one can also select sub topic sports news , business news ,weather news etc.

How to personalize web
Several technique are involved in process of personalization from collecting information to analyzing and delivery at user end. The whole process complete through specific steps like Collection of user information, Analyzing and filtering the information, Delivery of content.
Collection of user information
The main objective of collecting user information is to develop a profile on the basis user interest and preference where user can get its relevant information that can be automatically updated with changes of user interest.
The most common methods of information collection are explicit profiling, implicit profiling.
Explicit profiling: This information can be collect during the time of registration by asking user interests or preferences for information or separate questionnaires are also provided to clients that’s can be filled by users and accordingly the accounts information personalized for particular user.
Implicit profiling: Implicit information is indirectly obtained from the user itself, through tracking user’s browsing pattern and other habits like buying and selling habit or navigation pattern. For example, amazon.com saves the buying history of specific customer and based on that history, recommended specific product.

Analyzing the client information
When the user profile is available, the next step is to analyze the profile information in order to present or recommended document, product, and action to specific visitor. Providing this sort of information and recommendation is a challenging task. Many techniques are used to represent and recommend content and filtering is the one of common and best.
Filtering techniques compares user’s tastes with those of others in order to build up a picture of like-minded people. The three most common filtering techniques -- simple filtering, content-based filtering, and collaborative filtering -- are introduced below.
Simple filtering relies on predefined groups, or a class, of visitors to determine what content is displayed or what service is provided.
Content-based filtering works by analyzing the content of the objects to form a representation of the visitor's interests. Generally, the analysis needs to identify a set of key attributes for each object and then fill in the attribute values.
Collaborative filtering collects visitors' opinions on a set of objects, using either explicit or implicit ratings, to form like-minded peer groups and then learns from the peer groups to predict a particular visitor's interest in an item.

Delivery of content
Providing personalization for real-time applications, such as serving dynamically constructing Web pages based on the visitor's profile, affects system performance. The basic approach to handling personalized pages is to serve this in basic HTML page from the server, which doesn't require new technology and high-level programming.

Challenges and opportunities
Although most of the businesses are developing more and more personalized and customized web sites for a variety of reasons, there are a number of issues that must be considered during the site development and web designer and developer must understand and accepts these challenges in order to make it effective and successful for web clients.

User interest in personalize information
The main issue which should be considered,thay many time users . Instead of the personalization, many users prefer to remain anonymous (GVU WWW Surveying Team, 1998). According to the study of my yahoo.com, site, famous for personalization and customization, shows that most of the users take exactly what is given to them and only experienced users likes to customized the information, other people doesn’t spend there time on customization. To offset this problem suggestions are provided, main page should be well designed with maximum features or through implicit information so clients account should be personalized automatically so that nobody have to spend there time to customized their web page.

One of the key reasons users do not want to personalize is that they are very concerns about privacy. To provide the most appropriate personalization for each user requires much personal information. This means that users must give up some aspects of their privacy if they want personalization. Many users are simply not willing to give up their personal information, despite the potential benefits. This problem can be easily solve by providing high level security and client information can be categorize into different levels. for instance clients credit card or other personal information should be secure with specific user name and password.

Delivery of appropriate personalization features
Assuming that privacy issues can be addressed in an appropriate manner, there is still the issue of providing appropriate personalization features. This can be a big challenge if users are unwilling to provide the information or the available information and clients interests change with time. This difficulty can be solve, if information cannot be obtained explicitly from users, then it can be collected implicitly, and that information can represent the users behavior and also change with time.

Personalization may limit information
Another aspect of personalization that must be considered is the fact that, once a web site or application is personalized to a user, the information that users can access may be limited by the personalization scheme. Thus, it is possible that users might miss information that could be important to them, but that has been deemed unimportant by filtering or information collection models so the information architects must make sure that users should know that information is personalized, and if somebody wants any extra features then they should be able to access and control it.

As now personalization and customization become common e-business models, so it is important to information and service providers, developers and other must be aware of both the benefits and limitations. The prominent issues like privacy and ethics can be solved in future as personalization being important feature in e-business and also helpful in building one to one relationship, limitation can be offset through emerging technology. Now web clients are well aware to latest technology and web navigations so every one is interested to see their relevant content that can be useful to them without wasting much of time so personalization have great scope in future not only in e-commerce but also in other sectors like education and research.


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