W3C Web Characterization Activity
Terminology Sheet

Editors

Jim Pitkow, Xerox PARC
Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, W3C

Last Updated

Thursday, December 17, 1998

 

 

General Terminology

File

A collection of data that has a name and is stored electronically. Filenames are incorporated into the URL naming scheme. Dynamically generated data sets are not considered files.

Web Page

The composition of one or more URLs, with one URL composing the other URLs. Typically, Web pages consist of HTML content that embeds images, Java, audio, video and other media. In this manner, a Web page can consist of many URLs. Different communities have different practices as to whether embedded images requested in isolation, audio files, and video files represent Web pages. Web pages can be generated either statically or dynamically.

Web Site

A collection of Web pages and files that are under a common owner. A typical Web site consists of a central page that provides the navigational structure to other Web pages and files. Files may reside on different physical servers. Likewise, a physical server may contain several Web sites.

Hit

A request for a URL. Measuring hits yields the total number of items requested from a Web site including images, Java, etc. A hit is not necessarily a Web page, as many hits may be required to provide the content and embedded content necessary to create a Web page.

Page View

The sum of all the Web elements that create a complete Web page

Click

The requesting of a URL/hyperlink. A "click" can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, including the selection of a hyperlink embedded in a document, the selection of a hyperlink embedded in a browser interface, or manually typed in via the keyboard. Clicks can occur as a result of a human actively requesting a URL, a human instructing an agent to request the URLs (i.e., offline reading), or by autonomous agents (i.e., spiders and robots).

Click through Rate

How often users select a particular URL/hyperlink. Click through rate is often used to measure how well a Web advertisement is performing

Cookie

Arbitrary information sent by a server to a client, to be stored by the client, and sent back to the server on subsequent requests. Various parameters can be set to control the information including how long the information should reside on the client and which URLs to associate the information. Cookies are often used to enable electronic commerce (shopping baskets), customize content (store preferences), and to track the activity of individual users within a Web site (cookie counting).

Client Terminology

User Session

A cohesive set of user requests across one of more Web sites. In the absence of rigorous client side instrumentation (i.e., think aloud protocols, video taping, controlled experimentation), most users session are delineated heuristically, normally via timeouts.

Temporal Session Length

The total amount of time that elapses during the course of a user session.

User Reading Time

The amount of time between user page requests, also referred to as "Active Off Times." In the absence of rigorous client side instrumentation, interruptions and multi-tasking can introduce noise into reading times. To date the amount of noise has not been quantified.

Session Path Length

The total number of clicks that occur during the course of a user session.

Site Session

When a user issues requests from a Web site, also called a "visit."

Site Reading Time

The amount of time between user page requests within a site. As with User Reading Times, interruptions and multi-tasking can introduce an undeterminable amount of noise into reading times.

Site Path Length

The number of clicks within a site. The distribution of path lengths has been model as an inverse Gaussian distribution, which for the typical parameters approximates the lognormal distribution.

Client Request Header Size

The number of bytes in the HTTP headers sent by a client requesting information

Client Request Header Size

The number of bytes sent by a client delivering the content, i.e., the content of PUT

Total Client Request Size

= Content Response + Header Response

Server Terminology

Server Response Content Size

The number of bytes transferred by the server delivering the requested content

Server Response Header Size

The number of bytes transferred by the server delivering HTTP headers

Total Server Response Size

= Content Response + Header Response

Domain

Domains are defined by an IP address. All devices sharing a common part of the IP address are said to be in the same domain.