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Personalizing the Web Experience

Posted by Yuan Tian

Example: Joan Smith logs on to Amazon

When Joan Smith logs on to Amazon, she is greeted with, “Hello Joan Smith. We have recommendations for you.” When she clicks the text, she goes to a screen with recommendations for new releases, bargains, and items coming soon—all of which are specific to her interests and based on her buying history. As she browses the site, items similar to those she is viewing are brought to her attention. If she wants, she can create a personal description online and a wish list of things she would like to own. She also can build a personal network of favorite people to receive opinions and recommendations from those she trusts. There’s a tab that’s labeled “Joan’s Store” and a flashing treasure chest that blinks “Joan’s Gold Box.” There’s a wizard that lets her fine-tune or expand her personal profile. And there’s a feature that helps her track the items she recently viewed, the searches she recently made and the product categories she recently visited.


Personalization can be defined as the design, management, and delivery of content based on known, observed and predictive information. And personalization techniques match an individual, his/her preferences and Web page click stream habits with tailored content based on a user profile.

Why is personalization of web experience important? A growing number of consumers demand a highly personalized search experience.

ž Companies should know:

  • žHow can they make the search experience at the digital library as exciting and as personal as the experience at Web bookstores and search engines? Do they need to?
  • ž Should they adopt information profiling techniques?
  • ž What about the confidentiality of library records?