|Résumé :||With the emergence of the Internet and of the World Wide Web, the Web site has become a key communication channel in organizations. To satisfy the objectives of the Web site and of its target audience, adapting the Web site content to the users' expectations has become a major concern. In this context, Web usage mining, a relatively new research area, and Web analytics, a part of Web usage mining that has most emerged in the corporate world, offer many Web communication analysis techniques. These techniques include prediction of the user's behaviour within the site, comparison between expected and actual Web site usage, adjustment of the Web site with respect to the users' interests, and mining and analyzing Web usage data to discover interesting metrics and usage patterns. However, Web usage mining and Web analytics suffer from significant drawbacks when it comes to support the decision-making process at the higher levels in the organization.
Indeed, according to organizations theory, the higher levels in the organizations need summarized and conceptual information to take fast, high-level, and effective decisions. For Web sites, these levels include the organization managers and the Web site chief editors. At these levels, the results produced by Web analytics tools are mostly useless. Indeed, most of these results target Web designers and Web developers. Summary reports like the number of visitors and the number of page views can be of some interest to the organization manager but these results are poor. Finally, page-group and directory hits give the Web site chief editor conceptual results, but these are limited by several problems like page synonymy (several pages contain the same topic), page polysemy (a page contains several topics), page temporality, and page volatility.
Web usage mining research projects on their part have mostly left aside Web analytics and its limitations and have focused on other research paths. Examples of these paths are usage pattern analysis, personalization, system improvement, site structure modification, marketing business intelligence, and usage characterization. A potential contribution to Web analytics can be found in research about reverse clustering analysis, a technique based on self-organizing feature maps. This technique integrates Web usage mining and Web content mining in order to rank the Web site pages according to an original popularity score. However, the algorithm is not scalable and does not answer the page-polysemy, page-synonymy, page-temporality, and page-volatility problems. As a consequence, these approaches fail at delivering summarized and conceptual results.
An interesting attempt to obtain such results has been the Information Scent algorithm, which produces a list of term vectors representing the visitors' needs. These vectors provide a semantic representation of the visitors' needs and can be easily interpreted. Unfortunately, the results suffer from term polysemy and term synonymy, are visit-centric rather than site-centric, and are not scalable to produce. Finally, according to a recent survey, no Web usage mining research project has proposed a satisfying solution to provide site-wide summarized and conceptual audience metrics.
In this dissertation, we present our solution to answer the need for summarized and conceptual audience metrics in Web analytics. We first described several methods for mining the Web pages output by Web servers. These methods include content journaling, script parsing, server monitoring, network monitoring, and client-side mining. These techniques can be used alone or in combination to mine the Web pages output by any Web site. Then, the occurrences of taxonomy terms in these pages can be aggregated to provide concept-based audience metrics. To evaluate the results, we implement a prototype and run a number of test cases with real Web sites.
According to the first experiments with our prototype and SQL Server OLAP Analysis Service, concept-based metrics prove extremely summarized and much more intuitive than page-based metrics. As a consequence, concept-based metrics can be exploited at higher levels in the organization. For example, organization managers can redefine the organization strategy according to the visitors' interests. Concept-based metrics also give an intuitive view of the messages delivered through the Web site and allow to adapt the Web site communication to the organization objectives. The Web site chief editor on his part can interpret the metrics to redefine the publishing orders and redefine the sub-editors' writing tasks. As decisions at higher levels in the organization should be more effective, concept-based metrics should significantly contribute to Web usage mining and Web analytics.