There is a current trend to make museum collections widely accessible by digitising cultural heritage collections for the Internet. The present study takes a user perspective and explores the characteristics of online museum visitors' web search behaviour. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was deployed in a case study at a National Museum of Military History. Quantitatively, data from a web questionnaire survey and a user study of interactive searching behaviour were collected and analysed. Qualitatively, observation protocols were coded and analysed based on inductive content analysis. It was found that metadata elements on factual object related information, provenience, and historic context was indicated to be relevant by the majority of the respondents, characterising the group of special interest museum visitors as information hungry. Further, four main characteristics of online museum visitors' searching behaviour were identified: (a) searching behaviour has a strong visual aspect, (b) topical searching is predominantly exploratory, (c) users apply broad known item searches, and (d) meaning making is central to the search process.
Library and Information Science Research, 2014, Vol 36, Issue 2, p. 91-98
Faculty of Humanities; Cultural Heritage; Museum studies; Web museum OPAC; Information behaviour; searching behaviour; web search behaviour; museum studies; user analysis