Mapping how people use a website

Mappa Mundi article on visualizing web usage: A major challenge in designing and operating a large website is understanding how people use your site. Obviously, server logs for the site provide a potentially rich vein of information, as they record all user requests for pages. But how to make sense of this data so that the dynamic interactions of visitors and the Web page structure can be understood? Some form of mapping of these interactions to make them visible could well prove useful in turning the raw data in the logs into useful information. However, techniques and tools to visualize dynamic processes like Web usage are poorly developed. In this issue of Map of the Month we look at the work of one of the leading researchers trying to overcome this weakness, through the use of the concept of organic information design. His name is Ben Fry and he works in the MIT Media Lab, where he is busy creating innovative adaptive visualizations of how people use websites.