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Questionnaires, online and paper based

Analyzing log-files will provide information about how users behave and navigate on a web site, but explanations of the purpose of using the web service must rely on an interpretation of the use patterns. Mapping the different purposes of use as well as the user’s expectations to the information at the web site is more easily done through questionnaires. Decisions must be made about how to reach the target group, in this case the nonprofessional users. Two different approaches can be followed: online questionnaires that users looking up information at the web site are encouraged to fill in and submit [17], or paper-based questionnaires distributed either by mail or manually at open house or relevant meetings. Distributing questionnaires by mail is a method that can immediately be eliminated because the costs are high and there is no way to ensure that the questionnaire reaches citizens who have actually used the web service. The regional authorities regularly participate in information arrangements of various kinds. At these arrangements users can try the web services and immediately thereafter be encouraged to fill in a questionnaire. The immediate and direct confrontation at such arrangements can be assumed to give a high response rate, but only a limited number of users can be reached in this way. As a supplement to this approach, therefore, the online questionnaire seems a good choice.
A combination of log-file analysis and questionnaires can form a sound quantitative basis for understanding what the users expect to find at the web site and how they use the web site. Such knowledge forms the basis for the creation of a test setting and decisions about the tasks the test persons should be appointed. It can also help to answer the second question stated above: whether or not the users are able to use the web site’s applications correctly. But to get an impression of the user’s actual understanding of the concepts of GI, more qualitative methods like different kinds of interviews or think-aloud studies must be used.

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