CIS732 Final Project




Personalization in user interface












Professor: Dr. Murray Turoff

Submitted by: Dezhi Wu

Dec. 17, 2001












Table of contents



  1. Abstract-------------------------------------------------------------------P4
  2. Users and user interface in the Internet Era--------------------P4-P7
  3. What is personalization? -------------------------------------------P7-P8
  4. Categories of personalization--------------------------------------P8-10
  5. Good examples------------------------------------------------------P10-P12

6.    Technologies used in personalization--------------------------P13-P18

6.1    Structure of your personalization design

6.2    Information retrieval technology used in personalization

Characteristics of information retrieval architecture:


                  Operational Scenarios:

·       Ad Hoc Search

·       Filtering Document Streams

·       Selective Dissemination of Information

6.3    Data mining technology in personalization design

7.    Privacy and Security-------------------------------------------------P18-P20

8.    Universal Interaction in personalized design-------------------P21-P22

·       Diverse communication devices used by your users

·       Integration

·        Distribution

·       Mobility

·       User-level Modeling

·       Information Security

9.    Challenges to Personalization Design and Implement---------P22-23

·       The variety of different standards and requirements

·       Theories and guidelines are not sufficient

·       The difficulty of iterative design

·       Complexity of the tools

·       The need for real-time programming

·       Low testability

10.  Future research issues to Personalization-----------------------P23-24

11.  Conclusion--------------------------------------------------------------P24

12.  References--------------------------------------------------------------P25-P28

1. Abstract

On the Internet, users typically forage for information by navigating from page to page along Web links. Their surfing patterns or actions are guided by their information need. We have experienced massive growth in systems that can personalize content delivered to individual users. The science behind personalization has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, yet the basic goal of personalization systems remains the same: to provide users with what they want or need without requiring them to ask for it explicitly. Personalization is the provision to the individual of tailored products, services, information or information relating to products or service. It is a broad area, also covering recommender systems, customization, and adaptive Web sites.


The success [29] of personalization on the Web depends on the ability of the personalization community in promoting responsible use of the technology.  In my paper, some personalized technologies and research work in this area are explored.


2. Users and user interface in the Internet Era

There is a survey done in August 2001. The following table shows that there are 513.41million people online throughout the global.

World Total

513.41 million


4.15 million


143.99 million


154.63 million

Middle East


Canada & USA

180.68 million

Latin America

25.33 million



The Internet has become an ideal universal medium for collecting and disseminating information, because of the ease of accessibility across platforms and distance.


Just like the above table shows that Internet is attracting a huge amount of users throughout the whole global. Internet makes your web interface available to anyone, anywhere and anytime, if there is the Internet available in that area.

The UCLA Internet Report 2001 has found that 72.3 percent of Americans use the Internet, up from 66.9 percent last year. Users spend an average of 9.8 hours online per week, up from 9.4 hours per week in 2000. Broadband users spend an average of 3.2 hours more online than dial-up users do.

The main reasons people go online are to find information quickly, for work reasons, and to access email. The five most popular online activities are email and instant messaging, browsing, buying online, finding entertainment information, and reading news. Of those who do not use the Internet, 44.4 percent says they will do so within the next year, up from 40 percent last year. The main reason non-users do not go online is that they do not have a computer or access to an adequate computer.


Primary Uses of the Web

User Interface design in the Internet Era becomes more and more complicated. The organization in the Internet era is facing increasingly challenge. The major reason is that your users are changing in the Internet Era, and it becomes harder to meet their needs. Your users have capacity to access, search and obtain more information by diverse channels and choices, so they have enough options to make their decisions whether it is necessary to access your web site. It becomes pretty easy for your users to find the relative information they need by searching engines. [9] As information becomes more and more abundantly available with the click of a mouse, it is becoming vital that site masters design reflect users’ individual needs. No longer is the Web exclusively surfed by research scientists, military personnel, and college students.

 How does your user interface attract users? Personalization becomes an important factor being considered for a successful user interface.  [27] Three aspects of a Web site affect its utility in providing the intended service to its users. There are the content provided on the Web site, the layout of the individual pages, and the structure of the entire Web site itself. The relevance of each of the objects comprising a Web page to the users’ needs will clearly affect their level of satisfaction. The structure of the Web site, defined by the existence of links between the various pages, restricts the navigation performed by the user to predefined paths and therefore defines the ability of a user to access relevant pages with relative ease. Personalization technology involves software that learns patterns, habits, and preferences. On the Internet, its use is primarily in systems that support e-business providers with the ability to measure the quality of that solution. In terms of the fast emerging area of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), personalization enables e-business providers to implement strategies to lock in existing customers, and to win new customers.

Why does your user interface need personalization? The answer is not surprised- for business purpose.


3. What is personalization?


In order to build high quality information collections and distribute them to wider users, personalization in user interface becomes essential. The number of possible personalization variants seems countless. As with other Web features, a great variety of technologies and systems have been developed and are available in the market [22], but little or no attention has been paid to the process of modeling and designing personalized Web applications.



How to take good care of your users individually? Personalization is a best way, but it is a very challenging job. [2] It involves a myriad of different technologies that range from simple database views to software agents and collaborative filtering algorithms.



Kramer et al [25] defined personalization: “Personalization is a toolbox of technologies and application features used in the design of an end-user experience. Features classified as ‘personalization’ are wide-ranging, from simple display of the end-user’s name on a web page, to complex catalog navigation and product customization based on deep model of user’s needs and behaviors. ”


Daniel E. O’Leary [27] from the University of Southern California coined the phrase “AI Renaissance” in 1997, to describe how artificial intelligence (AI) can make the Internet more usable. Personalization technology is part of that renaissance. In parallel with the academic progress covered in this special section, the commercial world is witness to unprecedented growth in personalization technology companies. It is sometimes difficult to find a commonality in technology foundation that spans the breadth of commercial product offerings and global academic efforts in personalization, as well as the broad cross section of emerging efforts in digital markets.



4.    Categories of personalization


It is helpful to know what kind of work has been done or will be done in personalized user interface design. Below I am categorizing personalization into five categories.


Five Categories:


·       Link personalization

This strategy [2] involves selecting the links that are more relevant to the user, changing the original navigation space by reducing or improving the relationships between nodes. E-commerce application use link personalization to recommend items based on the clients buying history or some categorization of clients based on ratings and opinions. Link personalization is widely used in to link the home page with recommendations, new released, shopping groups, etc.


·       Content Personalization

When content becomes personalized, user interface can present different information for different users. [2] Content personalization provides substantive information in a node, other than link anchors. Personalization and adaptation of information to meet the users needs and interest is a very active research area. Most of content personalization research is relative to text and hypertext personalization. [33]


·       Context Personalization

Personalizing navigational contexts [2] is critical when the same information (node) can be reached in different situations. A navigational context is a set of nodes that usually share some property. For example in a Conference Paper Review Application, it is possible to access papers etc. Notice that one paper may appear in different sets and that different users may have different access restrictions according to their role in the Review application. [33]


·       Authorized Personalization


In the personalized user interface, different users have different roles. Therefore, authorized personalization used in the interface design is a good idea. In this case, different users have different access authorizations. For example, in an academic application, instructors and students have different tasks to perform. Instructors want to access their class materials, such as upload, edit their class syllabus and give students' grades etc. While for the role of students, they access the interface to find out their current GPA, their enrollment status, and their course work status etc. This kind of personalization is very useful in an academic environment. A good example is NJIT student information system, which is an authorized and secure system. The students at NJIT may access this system to check their GPA, their tuition, their transcript, and their enrollment status etc.


·       Humanized Personalization

Dr. Murray Turoff posted a comment on the course webboard: “I prefer personalization to humanization which was the concept of "hello John, how are you today?"  I think it will be an ideal type of personalization, which is involving a lot of artificial intelligence technologies.

This is a very interesting idea. [18] Bonnie Kaplan and Ramesh Farzanfar presented and studied an intelligent interactive telephone system, Telephone-Linked Care (TLC), that provided over whether they were talking to a machine or to a person during TKC relationships with the TLC system, TLC provided counseling about health behaviors. [33] “The tile of the talk was something like love, hate, and guilt, because these were the three primary attitudes the subjects developed with respect to their reactions to the system..’’ If the user interface becomes emotional, it will be absolutely ideal mode that personalization may reach. This category of personalization still needs to be explored in the research area, since there are still a lot of ambiguity and technical obstacles there.


5. Good examples



Recently Hotmail provided their email users some new features. One of these new features is impressive--to manage your emails by establishing special folders yourselves. By this new function, users may manage their emails in a good order, not only the current sort function, but also give you space to save your sorted emails in your hotmail account. This is a good example for personalized user interface.


In the below picture, you will find that the left side of the screen are full of folders. Users themselves create these folders, so this new function is very useful for user to find relative information, especially to manage your emails effectively and efficiently.


Users have better power to control their information, not just deleting the emails or downloading to somewhere.







The designer of My Yahoo! noted [9] "Connecting people and computers in a personal way is a very difficult proposition. Too many attempts have been made without sufficient regard to what people really want, what they can use, and how best it should fit their need (Manber 36). "


In, there are two levels of personalization [2]:

Firstly, the modules the users will get in the site. Such as: Weather, Headlines, and     Financial etc.

Secondly, users may find the information they need with each module (cities of news, particular stock quotations. etc.)



6. Technologies used in personalization


6.1 Structure of your personalization design




Observer architecture


The above graph is a basic structure for designing a personalized user interface. The presentation elements are integrated in a dynamic HTML (DHTML) page. They are implemented in different ways. Images and texts are realized as DHTML objects. Interactions with the users can be monitored with event handlers of JavaScript. Audio, video and VR-worlds are integrated with Plug-Ins. These Plug-Ins have Java interfaces that facilitate the monitoring of customer interactions. All interactions are registered in the Event Monitor, a component that is realized as a Java Applet. This component collects the observed interactions and then evaluates the presentation elements. Using Remote Method Invocation (RMI) [RMI98], these evaluations are written in a central history list which is stored in the database and which provides the example data for the algorithm. In general, the system should host many clients, however, the essential principle is the same as the above structure. How to make your interactions with your users? A lot of technologies are relative to client server computing.  Of course, there are a lot of ways to achieve an effective interaction among users and your organizations. JAVA RMI is only one of them.


6.2 Information retrieval technology used in personalization


Information retrieval technology is also very useful in your personalized interface design. Some conceptual architecture was created in some university research projects.

The purpose of information retrieval architecture is to provide users consistent, personalized and distributed resources for their information collections. Here, I chose an effective architecture [28] that can give users efficient inter-resource meta-information to retrieval effectiveness.


The characteristics of this architecture:


The following graphics is an architecture[28] that combines users and information resources in a coherent and meaningful way.


Operational Scenarios:

Here, I list three operational scenarios by using the above information retrieval architecture [28].

1.     Ad Hoc Search.

2.     Filtering Document Streams

3.     Selective Dissemination of Information

·        Ad Hoc Search

In this familiar scenario [28], users pose a one-time query to an information system hoping to receive information that is relevant to that query. After remote execution of the query at each resource, results are sent back for merging and presentation to the user.

Accompanying these results would be query-specific collection statistics that allow the personalized collection to do intelligent merging of the results. Alternatively, the personalized collection could decouple the maintenance of collection statistics with query execution, instead undergoing separate interactions to maintain this information.

·        Filtering Document Streams

 Another scenario [28] is one in which a personalized user interface builds a personalized collection in order to execute a continuous or standing query, i.e., to perform information filtering. Conceptually, filtering involves placing a user profile in a stream of documents, and sending notifications to the user for those documents deemed relevant to the profile. In order to do filtering within the personal information environment framework, we must assume that the information resources support queries that can exclude documents that have already been seen. Date based queries of the form "Give me all documents since 'date'" would suffice; failing that, some history mechanism must be maintained. With this capability, filtering can take place. User profiles can be kept in the individual environment -- there are clear consequences for each mechanism.

·        Selective Dissemination of Information

In a very real sense, [28] information retrieval and information filtering are duals -- information retrieval involves users finding documents, while filtering involves documents finding users. We now consider the personal information environment framework in a different context, that of a selective dissemination of information (SDI) provider, so we interpret it in a different way. User profiles are kept in a profile database, and to complete the picture, document insertions represent queries. The personalized environment can then process these returns and send notifications along to users.




6.3 Data mining technology in personalization design

Data mining technology is also involved in the design of personalization. This kind of technology may give you power to discover individualized behavior patterns to generate highly accurate personalized information in real-time. [29] Perhaps for the first time since the beginning of O’Leary’s AI renaissance, research and commercial goals are identical. These goals are high performance, high quality analytics, flexible and novel representational schema, and real-time application or deployment of the represented knowledge on Web servers, WAP servers, and so forth.

There are three principle components to observational personalization: analytics, representation, and deployment. [29] Web mining provides the tools to analyze Web log data in a user-centric manner such as segmentation, profiling, and click stream discovery. The knowledge mined by using these tools is increasingly being represented using W3C standards such as XML and the deployment of the knowledge on Web servers may be carried out through personalization or recommender systems.


Maurice D. Mulvenna, Sarabjot S. Anand, and Alex G. Buchner [27] summarized four useful articles, since these articles show the potential and diverse uses available for personalization systems. These ideas will be helpful to understand the ideas in terms of data mining technology applied in personalized user interface design. Here, I made these reviews into the below table.



Article Authors

Ideas to data mining in terms of personalization





1.  A rationale for why Web log data should be minded.

2.  The effectiveness of a Web site in providing users with the content they need in the most optimized manner is the key to retaining them.

3.   A process by which mining for navigational patterns may be used to gain insight into a Web site’s usage and optimality with respect to its user population.

Cingil, Dogac and Azgin




1. The need for interoperability when mining the Web

2. How the various W3C standards can be used to achieve personalization applications.

3. How the recent data exchange, metadata and privacy standards from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), namely, Extensible Markup Language (XML), Resource Description Framework (RDF), and Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) may be used to support personalization activities.

Mobasher, Cooley, and Srivastava




1. A framework for mining Web log files to discover knowledge for the provision of recommendations to current users based on their browsing similarities with previous users.

2. The process for discovering such knowledge includes gathering and preprocessing the data necessary for discovering user behaviors, application of data mining techniques to discover usage patterns, and aggregation and filtering of the data mining results in order to create decision rules fro customizing Web site content based on an individual user’s behavior.

Perkowitz, Etzioni





1. Personalization as a process that adapts an Internet site through the automated generation of index pages for the Web site.

2. Adaptive Internet sites were explored in this paper. Those are the sites that automatically improve their organization and presentation by learning from visitor access patterns. Adaptive Web sites mine the data buried in Web server logs to produce more easily navigable Web sites.



7. Privacy and Security


A recent survey of Web users suggests over 70% of Web users find online solicitation from a Web site a hindrance rather than helpful and over 50% of Web users are worried about their privacy. How the providers of personalized services can manage to tread the fine line between personalization and personal intrusion and control the hype around it will determine the future of this field.  The blow graph is from GVU's User survey about the question: Which is more important? Convenience or Privacy?





Which is More Important

















                    The concern to security was also investigated. Most of users are very concerned about security.

How Concerned about Security





Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent


Not at all





A little















Should be, but not















Privacy and security are two fundamental attributes in personalized user interface design.

A lot of online services need the users' personal information, such as your credit cards number, social security number and phone number etc. Two questions are shown up:


How much do your users provide you personal information?

How can you protect their personal information?


If your web site cannot protect your users' privacy and security, it will not attract any users. For a personalized user interface design, the users are very concerned with these two issues.  Therefore, in your design process, a lot of technologies in terms of privacy and security should be considered, such as setting up firework, password and secure networks etc.




8. Universal Interaction used in personalized design


Universal interaction in your personalized design is challenging, however, it is an important aspect. [30] Since universal interaction uses the same mechanism for different communication devices (such as phones, PDAs and desktop computers). This means conveying the same content through different channels by suitably modifying the way it is represented. In this case, personalization allows users to view the information that is relevant to the user and appropriate for the access device.


Some reports show that most web sites today are optimized exclusively for desktop, broadband clients, and deliver content poorly suited for mobile devices-devices that can display only a few lines of text, are on slow wireless network connections, and can not run client-side programs or scripts.  The best serve needs of this growing community are to building personalized web sites for each individual mobile user. [35]


Given the differences in bandwidth among these devices, it is not at all obvious that Universal Interaction is feasible. [34] On the other hand it is obviously desirable, for it would save us the effort of engineering for each communication channel and each device separately, and ensure the consistency style. Universal Interaction and dialogue management are connected because whatever can be done in one turn on a desktop computer, might require a few turns of phone dialogue or interactions with a PDA. When the bandwidth of a device is low, we have to compensate by increasing the number of turns. Similarly, if there is a great deal of information to be conveyed to or by the user. Dialogue management issues include such elements as what to ask the user and in what order, what information to convey by text, what by voice, and what by picture.


Universal interaction architecture is tailored-made for personalization; the actual interface for each user can be specially constructed for him or her based on geography-specific, user-specific, and style-specific transformations.


In terms of this topic, other issues should also be considered besides personalization:




9. Challenges to Personalization Design and Implement


Like software in general, it seems that user interfaces are often more difficult to engineer than other parts of a system. [29] I referred some papers, and summarized the following challenges:


·        The Variety of Different Standards and Requirements

All design involves tradeoffs, but it seems that user interface design involves a much larger number of concerns, and they are the purview of widely different disciplines and standards.   Many aspects should be considered in a personalized design, such as layouts, colors, icon design, text fonts, internationalization, performance, high-level and low-level details, external factor and legal issues etc.


·        Theories and Guidelines are not sufficient

There are many methodologies, theories and guidelines for how to produce a good user interface. Some of them are very specific, while some of them are quite vague and some of them are confirmed dangerous for operation.


·        The Difficulty of Iterative Design

One important problem is that the designer’s intuition about how to fix an observed problem may be wrong. Some data show that while iterating on a poor design does improve it, iteration never gets it to be as good as an interface that was originally well-designed. Meanwhile, it is quite expensive to do iterative testing.


·        Complexity of the Tools

Since the programming languages are not sufficient, a large number of tools have been developed. Unfortunately, some of these tools are difficult to use. Clearly, enormous training is involved in order to use these tools.



·        The Need for Real-Time Programming

Most personalized need should be corrected instantly, so this causes a set of difficulties for real-time programming. In order to be attractive to users, the programmers must ensure that any necessary processing to calculate the feedback, that can be guaranteed to finish within a short time. This might involve more complicated incremental algorithms. This is a difficult question for designer.


·        Low Testability

A related problem is the difficulty of testing user interface software for correctness. It is also very difficult to determine whether the user interface has been tested completely.



10. Future research issues to Personalization





11. Conclusion


Personalization is still a new research area in interactive design. Even though some work has been done, personalized user interface is still facing a lot of challenges. In my paper, I tried to present some research work and technical issues have been done in this area and some issues still need to be explored further in the future.


It is hard to meet every user's need, since different users have different concerns in terms of different topics. In you limited user interface, how many issues should be considered? The answer seems not exact. Psychology science, design science and computing science are being combined together to explore this attractive topic. In the future, maybe it is possible to achieve a totally personalization. Our system will exactly know what we love, what we hate and what we need now.





[1] Emiliano Casalicchio,Michele Colajanni,. “A Client-Aware Dispatching Algorithm for Web Clusters Providing Multiple Services”, ACM, May, 2001, P535-544


[2] Gustavo Rossi, Daniel Schwabe, Robson Guimaraes. “Designing Personalized Web Applications”, ACM, 2001, P275-284


[3] John Bowers, James Pycock. “Talking Through Design: Requirements and Resistance in Cooperative Prototyping”, CHI 1994, P299-383


[4] Allen Cypher, Shifteh Karimi. “User-Centered Processes”, Interactions, July 1994 P65-71


[5] James Lin, Mark W. Newman, Jason I. Hong, James A. Landay. “DENIM: Finding a Tighter Fit Between Tools and Practice for Web Site Design. “, CHI, 2000, P510-517


[6] Xiaoni Zhang, Kellie B. Keeling, Robert J. Pavur. “Information Quality of commercial web site homepages: an explorative analysis”. AIS 2000 conference, P167-175


[7] Ernesto Srias, Hal Eden, Gerhard Fischer, Andrew Gorman, and Eric Scharff. “Transcending the Individual Human Mind-Creating Shared Understanding through Collaborative Design”, ACM, 2000, P84-113


[8] Melody Y. Ivory, Rashmi R. Sinha, Marti A. Hearst. “Empirically Validated Web Page Design Metrics”, CHI 2001, P53-60


[9] Beth Ann Mardekian, “Custom Tailored: Personalizing the Web experience”, Fall 2000,


[10] BJ Fogg, Jonathan Marshall, Othman Laraki,…. “What Makes Web Sites Credible? A Report on a Large Quantitative Study”, CHI 2001, P61-66


[11] Ed H. Chi, Peter Pirolli, Kim Chen, James Pitkow. “Using Information Scent to Model User Information Needs and Actions on the Web”, CHI 2001, P490-497


[12] Joseph Kramer, Sunil Noronha, and John Vergo. “User-Centered Design Approach to Personalization”, Communication of the ACM, August 2000/Vol. 43. No. 8 P 45-48


[13] Ed H. Chi, Peter Pirolli, James Pitkow. “The Scent of a site: A System for Analyzing and Predicting Information Scent, Usage, and Usability of a Web Site. “. CHI, April 2000, P 161-582


[14] George Casaday, Cynthia Rainis. “Requirements, Models, and Prototypes for HCI Design”. CHI 1996, April, P361


[15]Keith Instone, “HCI issues of the World-Wide Web”, April 1996, P423


[16] Richard M. Young, T. R. G. Green and Tony Simon. “Programmable User Models For Predictive Evaluation of Interface Designs”. ACM 1989, P15-19


[17] Jonathan W. Palmer and David A. Griffith, “An Emerging Model of Web Site Design for Marketing”, Communication of the ACM, March 1998, P45-51



[18]Kaplan, Bonnie; Farzanfar, Ramesh; Friedman Robert H.  "Research and Ethical Issues Arising from Ethnographic Interviews of Patients' Reactions to an Intelligent Interactive Telephone Health Behavior Advisor System."  In New Information Technologies in Organizational Processes: Field Studies and Theoretical Reflections on the Future of Work, edited by Ojelanki Ngwenyama, Lucas D. Introna, Michael D. Myers, and Janice I. DeGross.  Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999. Pp. 67-77.








[22] “Special Issues on Personalization”, Communications of the ACM, August 2000, Vol.43, Number 8




[24] Karat, John et al. “Affordances, Motivation, and the Design of User Interfaces”. CACM. August 2000, Vol. 43 No. 8, p49-51, ACM 2000


[25] Kramer, Joseph et al. “A User-Centered Design Approach to Personalization”. CACM, August 2000, Vol. 43 No. 8. P45-48, ACM 2000




[27] Maurice D. Mulvenna, Sarabjot S. Anand, and Alex G. Buchner. “Personalization on the Net using Web Mining”, Communication of the ACM, August 2000, Vol43, No. 8, P123-125




[29] Brad A. Myers, “Challenges of HCI Design and Implementation”, Interactions, January, 1994.






[32] Murray Turoff, comment to “Personalization” on the webboard (CIS732, Fall 2001),



[33] Rune Hjesvold, Subu Vdaygiri, Yves Leaute, “Web-based personalization and Management of Interactive Vedio”, ACM, 2001, P129-139


[34] Wlodek Zadrozny, M. Budzikowska, J. Chai, N. Kambhatla, S. Levesque, and N. Nicolov. "Natural Language dialogue for personalized interaction", ACM 2000 p116-120


[35] Corin R. Anderson, Pedro Domingos, Daniel S. Weld. "Personalizing Web Sites for Mobile Users", ACM 2001, P565-575