Creating User Profiles to Improve Information Quality

By Henczel, Sue | Online, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

Creating User Profiles to Improve Information Quality


Henczel, Sue, Online


It seems a utopian vision: providing the correct information to the right individual at the precise time in the desired format. How can information professionals do that? How can the information professional know what each individual wants and needs, both now and in the future? What is the best way to match format and delivery preferences with the available technical infrastructure? Is mind reading becoming a core competency? No, but user profiling might be.

User profiling enables information professionals to understand each individual's or group's information needs (content, level, parameters), what that information will be used to support (task association, outputs/goals), what the optimum delivery mechanism is (frequency, format, place), and what constraints exist, usually caused by technical infrastructure and work flows. It also provides insight into the users' expectations regarding content and service. User profiling is a process in its own right, but can also stem from an information audit process.

In her 1989 book, Concepts of Information Retrieval (Libraries Unlimited), Miranda Lee Pao defines user profiling as "the process by which information is gathered, organized, and interpreted to create a summarization or description of the user." Today, Web designers, developers, and evaluators use it widely to ensure that a Web site meets the needs of its users. The process involves gathering data from users and potential users to identify, categorize, and classify them using a broad range of characteristics or attributes. A comprehensive picture emerges from analyzing these attributes, which can include demographics (age, gender), socio-economic (cultural background, reading and language skills, level of education, type of work), location (geographic, home, work), unique skills and areas of expertise, special interests, and attitudes/expectations. The formulation of user profiles serves as the basis for evaluations of whether a Web site communicates with the users effectively on an ongoing basis.

INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS USE OF PROFILING

When used by information professionals, user profiling involves a similar process: gathering information about information users and then categorizing and assigning them attributes. Whether conducted as an independent project or as an outcome of an information audit, user profiling determines the information needs of a client base and identifies their delivery preferences on both an individual and a group basis. To give them what they want, you have to know who they are. Information for the marketing department will look different than for engineering. A request from a graduate student will require a different answer than that from an undergraduate. A user in Australia has different needs than a user in Brazil. Frequent travelers have delivery constraints that differ from desk jockeys.

As Stephen Northey and Bill Fatouros point out in their article "Meta or Better Data? The Value of User Profiling for Information Services" [www.vala.org.au/vala2002/2002pdf/06 NorFat.pdf], user profiles give an understanding of the users, their work situation, and tasks, with the emphasis on computer literacy, experience, information needs, work situation, and work environment. This facilitates the delivery of dynamic information products and services that match the known and potential requirements of individual users and groups, while providing a means of associating information and expertise (people) with specific organizational strategies. Additionally, profiling supplies a means of associating and sharing experience and locating knowledge within an organization.

ADVANTAGES OF PROFILING

User profiling is particularly useful in this digital and knowledge era for two primary reasons (and an increasing number of secondary reasons). One concerns information management, the other knowledge management:

* To maximize the relevance of information provided to users. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Creating User Profiles to Improve Information Quality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.